LARAMIE, Wyo. â€” The CSU menâ€™s basketball team entered Saturdayâ€™s contest against Wyoming riding high on a nine-game winning streak.
But the Rams got out-hustled, out-maneuvered and totally manhandled by Wyoming and forward Leonard Washington as CSU saw its streak snapped by a 70-51 loss in Laramie.
â€œThis is Wyoming’s day,” CSU coach Tim Miles said after the game. “They kicked our butts. They owned the day in every way, shape and form.â€
More specifically, it was Washingtonâ€™s day.
The junior, who sat out last season after transferring from the University of Southern California, scored Wyomingâ€™s first points of the day on a goaltend by Will Bell. He then scored the final points of the game for Wyoming when he sank his second three-pointer of the day with 43 seconds left in the game before being removed to a standing ovation from the 7,901 in attendance.
And in-between those buckets he was a wrecking ball that CSU could not contain.
Washington found every loose ball, every rebound and on the rare occasion that he missed a shot, he usually got his own rebound and turned it into points.
For the night he finished with 32 points and 14 rebounds (both career highs) on 12-16 shooting.
â€œI was telling my new boss (Athletic Director Jack Graham) youâ€™ve got to watch out for this new guy,â€ Miles said about Washington. â€œâ€¦He was a one man wrecking crew.â€
As good as Washington was, CSUâ€™s offense was equally bad.
The Rams came out stagnant on offense. There was little ball movement and cuts and player movement were almost nonexistent.
And against a team that allowed only 53 points per game coming in, it was a recipe for disaster.
CSU turned the ball over and missed lots of shots early, helping to fuel a frenzied crowd.
â€œTheir defense was good, and they have good defense, and our offense was crummy,â€ Miles said. â€œGood defense is going to beat crummy offense.â€
CSUâ€™s leading scorer, Wes Eikmeier, struggled all night, even having an air ball on his first shot, and he never got on track, finishing the night with two points.
All season long CSU has had players step up when Eikmeier struggled. On Saturday Greg Smith scored 18, but no one else was able to step up.
Wyomingâ€™s defense frustrated CSU more than anyone else has all year.
At the start of the second half, with CSU down 13, Eikmeier turned the ball over, leading to a Wyoming dunk.
Miles called an immediate timeout and pulled four of his five starters, 23 seconds into the half.
But even that couldnâ€™t spark the Rams.
From the start CSU seemed a half-step behind Wyoming in terms of speed and energy, and they never came closer than within nine after halftime.
â€œFrom the jump, they really got on the boards,” Smith said. “They showed us what they were about. They started hitting shots, they turned us over, and they just kept that wave going the rest of the game.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final: CSU: 51 Wyoming: 70
Top performer: Leonard Washington (Wyo): 32 points, 14 rebounds
Up next: Wednesday, at New Mexico. 8 p.m. on The Mtn.