By Randall Champion
Maybe it was the blue jerseys. Perhaps it was the smaller arena. It may have been the funky looking ram horn pattern that covered the length of the court. Whatever it was, the BYU men”s basketball team realized something Saturday night.
They weren”t in Provo anymore.
Thanks to some tough shots and key free throws down the stretch, Colorado State pulled out a thrilling 60-55 victory over BYU Saturday night.
Trailing by three with 3.8 seconds remaining, Mekeli Wesley forced a three pointer to try to send the game to overtime, but the shot was long. Two free throws iced the win for the Rams (10-5, 1-1), who have now won eight of the last nine against the Cougars (13-5, 2-1), including five in a row at Moby Arena.
After two quick starts at home, BYU stumbled out of the gate as Colorado State built a nine point lead midway through the first half. The Cougars trailed 35-29 at the half after going 0 for 8 from the three-point arc.
The second half turned into a physical, defensive battle, as neither team allowed easy shots the remainder of the game. BYU shot only 38% for the game from the field, and went a horrific 1 for 16 in three-pointers.
Assistant Coach Dave Rose commented on the difference in shooting for the Cougars. “Our guys were a little shell-shocked their shots weren”t falling. When you go 1 for 16 from the three-point line, … you need to find another shot.”
Colorado State came into the game ranked tenth nationally in field goal percentage at 50.1%. The Cougar defense held them to just 42%, but the Rams hit the shots when they needed to, something the Cougars couldn”t do.
“Trying to execute the last five or six minutes, we didn”t make the shots we needed to make,” Rose said.
Four Cougars scored in double figures, with Trent Whiting leading the way with 13 points. Wesley added 12, Terrell Lyday scored 11, and Travis Hansen finished with 10. Wesley and Whiting both pulled down seven rebounds for the Cougars. Unfortunately for BYU, the rest of the team combined for only nine points.
After the game, Wesley summed up his feelings. “It was a tough shooting night, and we couldn”t find our rhythm. A lot of physical play down low, and again we”re playing on the road with a hostile crowd,” he said.
Colorado State”s John Sivesind led all scorers with 18 points, including a perfect 6 for 6 in free throws. Ron Grady added 13, going 5 for 6 at the free throw line for the Rams.
The road doesn”t get any easier for the Cougars, as they travel to Laramie to battle the Wyoming Cowboys on Monday night. BYU knows it is in for another wild crowd at Arena Auditorium, and they need to be prepared.
“We know we have another very tough game on Monday with another hostile crowd,” said Wesley. “This happens, and we need to step it up and take this like a man.”