LARAMIE, Wyo. — Just when it looked like the Colorado State men’s basketball team was going to grab its first Mountain West Conference road victory of the season, Wyoming made an improbable final-minute rally to deny the Rams that elusive win away from home.
The Cowboys used a 12-1 run over the final 50 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime and then outscored the No. 24 Rams 14-11 in the extra period to pull out a 79-76 victory Saturday at UW’s Arena-Auditorium.
“In some way, we found a way to lose that game,” CSU head coach Niko Medved said. “It’s hard to not be emotional right now when things are the way that they are. I thought we did a lot of good things and did enough there to win a big road game here today.”
With 1:11 left in regulation, the Rams took an 11-point lead on a jumper by Nique Clifford and even Medved said he felt good about the situation the Rams were in.
However, things began to unravel quickly for CSU.
The Cowboys hit three consecutive shots, including a 3-pointer, then cut the CSU lead to 65-62 by making a pair of free throws after the Rams fouled them on a 3-point attempt.
The Cowboys made two of those three free throws, missing the third and grabbing the rebound, only to be fouled again and get another chance at the line with two seconds remaining.
They missed the second of two free throws after cutting the CSU lead to 65-63, but the ball went out of bounds off the Rams and the Cowboys got one last chance with 1.5 seconds left.
They inbounded the ball and got a layup at the buzzer to tie the game and send it to overtime tied at 65-65. The overtime went back and forth until the Cowboys were able to grab the lead late and hold off the Rams in the final seconds.
“We feel like we just gave them the game,” CSU forward Patrick Cartier said. “We were up 11 with a minute left. That can’t happen. We made some dumb mistakes, and they made some plays. It’s a gut-punch, especially against Wyoming.”
Trailing by three at halftime, the Rams came out of the break and quickly took the lead.
Colorado State’s Isaiah Stevens drives to the basket against Wyoming on Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo. (Nathan Wright/Loveland Reporter-Herald)
A 7-0 run capped by a 3 from Isaiah Stevens gave the Rams a 36-31 advantage. Wyoming answered with an 11-4 run to go ahead 42-40 with 12:05 remaining.
That Cowboys’ run was stopped when Rashaan Mbemba made a pair of free throws off of a Wyoming flagrant foul. The two free throws tied the game at 42 and the teams spent the next several minutes trading baskets.
Down 48-46, the Rams went on an 10-0 run to finally put a little distance between the teams. The spurt started with a layup by Clifford and ended with another layup by the CU transfer to give CSU a 56-48 lead with 4:41 left in the game.
The Cowboys finally stopped the Rams’ run with a pair of free throws.
CSU took a 62-51 lead on a 3-pointer by Josiah Strong and then a pair of free throws by Joel Scott gave the Rams their largest lead of the game at 62-52 with 1:58 remaining. Shortly after, CSU took its 11-point lead with just over a minute remaining.
Then, as Medved put it, everything that could have gone wrong for CSU, did.
“Down the stretch, in that last minute and 20 or whatever it was, everything conceivable that could have went wrong went wrong,” Medved said. “There were some very unfortunate circumstances, I thought, that didn’t go our way. But at the end of the day, you have to control what you can control.”
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Cartier led the Rams with 19 points. Stevens had 17 and nine assists. Scott added 15 points and Clifford had 13 to go along with 12 rebounds.
With the loss, the Rams (15-5) dropped below .500 in conference play at 3-4 after losing their fourth Mountain West road game overall and second this week.
The Rams will have to regroup quickly as San Diego State visits Moby Arena on Tuesday.
Colorado State’s Patrick Cartier looks for an open teammate against Wyoming on Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo. (Nathan Wright/Loveland Reporter-Herald)