With just seconds remaining in Wednesdayâ€™s game between CSU and Boise State, freshman Derrick Marks drove to his left, rose up and shot over Ramsâ€™ guard Dorian Green.
As the ball sailed towards the backboard it wasnâ€™t only the game hanging in the air, it was the Ramsâ€™ NCAA Tournament hopes.
And the bubble popped as the ball hit the glass and fell through the hoop to give Boise State (12-12, 2-7 MW) a stunning 70-69 victory over CSU (15-9, 4-5 MW).
â€œWe wanted Dorian to stay in front of him as much as he could,â€ CSU coach Tim Miles said of the final possession. â€œThat kids a left-hand driver, so we didnâ€™t want him to get to his left and Dorian let him get to his left.â€
It was a crushing ending to a game that was more up-and-down than Colorado weather.
CSU was down by as much as 11 in the first half, but came back to close the gap to two at the intermission when Green hit a layup at the buzzer.
The Rams then took their first lead since 4-3 when Green hit a three to make it 36-33 early in the second half.
As the game wore on, CSU seemed to finally get its offense and defense going at the same time, taking a 55-54 lead with about seven minutes left in the game.
Boise State then went on a 10-1 run to take a 64-56 lead, leading Miles to call a timeout to regroup.
The Rams stormed back and tied the game at 64 on a three by Jesse Carr. A couple of possessions later CSU took the lead on a three by Kaipo Sabas.
It looked like that final run would be enough. CSU held a one-point lead and the ball with 40 seconds left in the game.
Boise State opted not to foul, and when the Ramsâ€™ first option was denied, they were sent scrambling. Wes Eikmeier (who set a career-high with 30 points) ran into a defender, no foul was called, and CSU ended up not getting off a shot.
While CSU was in a position to win late, the Rams could have been in a much more comfortable position with better execution. CSU missed numerous short shots, including two putback attempts by Greg Smith that he failed to convert.
Additionally, The Rams shot 63 percent from the foul line.
â€œThat was sickening to me,â€ Miles said. â€œMake your layups, make your free throws, you win the game.â€
And those mistakes opened the door for the last-second heroics by Marks.
â€œWeâ€™re inventing new ways to lose games,â€ Miles said.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.