CSU basketball grinds out series-opening victory over UNLV – The Denver Post

FORT COLLINS –– To live and die by the 3-pointer.

Though a risky way to operate, the phrase defined much of Colorado State’s evening as Niko Medved’s squad rallied to beat UNLV, 74-71, on Thursday inside Moby Arena.

Early on, CSU knocked down triple after triple against UNLV. But once the hosts went cold behind the arc, the visiting Rebels settled in and eventually pinned the Rams against the ropes.

Not to worry, because when the Rams desperately needed a high-percentage look, star big man David Roddy came through, pulling CSU ahead twice in the final two minutes en route to the win.

“End of the day, we found a way to win,” Medved said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to UNLV with what they’ve been through. They came out with a good game plan and did some things we probably weren’t prepared for. We were sluggish there for a while, but this team never quits.”

Following a pair of Isaiah Stevens free throws, Roddy maneuvered aggressively in the paint upon converting a hard-fought layup plus the foul.

The sophomore’s make from the stripe granted the Rams a 70-69 advantage with 1:50 remaining –– their first lead since the first half and a response in full to as much as a 13-point second-half deficit.

Then, down 71-70 in the final 30 seconds, Roddy worked his way toward the rim similarly to settle the outcome. Overall, Roddy tallied 18 points and five rebounds.

“For me, it was just move the ball, go with the flow and stick to my game,” Roddy said. “Throughout the offense, sometimes I have a crowd around me, so I have to kick it out to my guys. I’ll do whatever I can do to help the team win. As long as we get the win, I’ll do it. But it was just about sticking to my game.”

In total, the Rams converted 11-of-25 2-point field goals compared to a 12-of-30 mark from 3-point range. And though Roddy played a crucial role in the team finally asserting itself in the paint down the stretch, so did Stevens, his sophomore partner in crime.

Frankly, for much of the action, Stevens carried the Rams offensively with a plethora of dazzling ball reversals and strong finishes near the rim.

After the guard’s acrobatic layup somehow found nylon as the first-half buzzer sounded, Stevens dropped 18 of his game-high 25 points in the conclusive frame off an 8-for-15 clip from the floor. Stevens also hit five of CSU’s collective 2-point makes.

“At halftime we were 1-of-8 near the rim,” Medved said. “We were just doing a poor job of finishing. We weren’t physical down there and were really soft with the ball. Down the stretch, in the second half, we were much more aggressive. That started with our guards attacking the lane and penetrating. That really started with Isaiah Stevens.”

To commence to action, the Rams established their deep-shooting prowess by nailing eight of their first 12 3-point attempts in a back-and-forth start.

They then missed 11 consecutive 3-pointers –– which lingered into the second half as the Rebels assembled a 13-point edge with less than nine minutes to play.

The Rams were dying from deep at that point. However, amounting to the eventual crunch-time victory, CSU resurrected its shooting stroke amid an 11-point run to trim its deficit to 61-60. The flurry included a pair of treys from Stevens, followed by a Kendle Moore triple.

Speaking of Moore, the junior’s contributions proved vital during his return to the lineup after missing the Rams’ last game for the birth of his child. The sharpshooting guard provided 15 points off a 5-of-8 mark from distance.

“He definitely makes me a better coach when he’s out there playing for us,” Medved said. “He’s just a warrior, a tough kid, an ultimate competitor. The steal he had late in the game when he needed it, that’s Kendle Moore right there. He’s just got the heart of a champion.”

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