Blowing a 15 point halftime lead is not going to feel good, but it hurts just a little bit less when you pull a victory out in overtime. So the story went for the Colorado State Rams on Tuesday night, who improved their record on the season to 4-2 with a 91-86 victory over the Manhattan Jaspers.
The Rams were led by junior guard Wes Eikmeier, who had a team high 23 points and also added five rebounds and two steals. Colorado State was hot all night, shooting 21-40 from the field including six of nine from three point range. But where the Rams really shined was on the free throw line, where they shot an astounding 54 freebies on the night, of which they made 43. Three Rams alone— Eikemeir and Greg Smith, both of whom went 11-12 from the line, and Jesse Carr, who went 8-8 from the stripe— accounted for more made free throws than the entire Jaspers team.
Junior guard Wes Eikmeier scored 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting and dished out four assists to lead Colorado State past the UTSA Roadrunners 85-75 in the consolation round of the NIT Tip-off Tournament. Colorado State led by just one at halftime, but used a big second half to run their record to 3-2.
Five players -- three of them reserves -- scored in double-digits for Colorado State. Sophomore guard Dwight Smith scored 16 points in 19 minutes by going 7-of-10 from the free throw line. Senior Kaipo Sabas hit 5-of-6 three-pointers to score 15 points off the bench.
Next up for Colorado State is a game tomorrow with Manhattan, who beat Fresno State tonight.
Gabriel Harris' buzzer-beating three-point shot at halftime propelled the Stanford Cardinal to a second-half turnaround against the Colorado St. Rams for the 64-52 win. The Rams led by 11 points late in the first half before Harris' three concluded an 11-2 run to end the half down by just two points, 33-31.
The Rams had a 41-36 lead over the Cardinal in the second, but a three by Aaron Bright and a Josh Owens steal and a dunk tied the game at 41. For a brief moment, the Rams regained the lead after that, but Bright sank another three to regain Stanford's lead. The Cardinal began to pull away after that.
The Rams shot over 40 percent during the first half of the game, but finished at 33.9 percent (21-of-62). The team sank just four of its 16 threes, but they were really hurt by 13 turnovers and 19 personal fouls.
Wes Eikmeier had a team-high 13 points while Greg Smith put in 10 points and grabbed nine boards. The two combined for nine of the teams 13 turnovers.
The Colorado St. Rams are just 20 minutes away from making a trip to Madison Square Garden to play in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-off. They lead the Stanford Cardinal at halftime, 33-31. However, Stanford's Gabriel Harris made a 65-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to complete an 11-2 run over the last four-plus minutes of the half.
Neither team has distinguished itself yet, as turnovers and fouls made for a stop-and-go first half. The Rams committed seven turnovers and nine personal fouls. Stanford had nine turnovers and six fouls.
Colorado State advanced to the finals of the NIT Tip-off Tournament's west region after an impressive 75-56 win over Southern Methodist on Monday night. They'll face the Stanford Cardinal, who advanced with a 75-59 win over Fresno State. Stanford is also the host school for this particular region, which adds to the challenge the Rams face Tuesday night.
Through two games, guard Aaron Bright leads the Cardinal in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He is 7-8 from three-point range in the early going. Guard Chasson Randle and forward Josh Owens are also averaging double digits for Stanford.
Both Stanford and Colorado State have been very good at grabbing offensive boards so far this year, so defensive rebounding could be one of the keys to success for each team at the defensive end. Offensively, the Rams will need to take care of the ball against a Stanford defense that has created a lot of turnovers this season.
The Colorado St. Rams are off to a 2-0 start with a 75-56 victory over the SMU Mustangs on Monday night. The Rams advanced to the West Region championship of the 2011 NIT Season Tip-off.
The Rams controlled this game from beginning to end with a hot start. They had a 51-29 halftime lead before being outscored in the second half, 27-24. Four of five starters scored in double figures: Dorian Green had a team-high 19 points while Wes Eikmeier finished with 18. Greg Smith and Will Bell each added 10 points. Green had an all-around great night by grabbing six boards and dishing the ball out for five assists.
Pierce Hornung contributed six points and pulled down six boards, four on the offensive glass. He distributed the ball for three assists and made two blocks. Jesse Carr had nine of the team's 12 bench points.
Overall the Rams made 52 percent of their shots, completed 53 percent of their three-pointers and hit 14-of-15 free throws.
The Rams await the winner of the Stanford-Fresno State game. Should the Rams win that game they will head to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals.