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Rams Persevere Their Way To 81-77 Victory Over Montana State

November 15, 2018

On paper this game had blowout written all over it.

The home side had shot lights out in their first two games, romping their way to easy victories. The visitors from Bozeman had been thoroughly trounced in their D-1 match-ups with only a win over NAIA Presentation College (nickname the PowerPointers?).

But funny things happen sometimes between paper and hardwood.

How could you predict that the Rams would have trouble knocking down shots from the perimeter after shooting more than 50% in their first two games? That they would shoot 20% on 6 made three’s? How could you predict that Montana State would make 14 three-balls at a 40% clip over the course of the game when they have averaged about 6 makes at just over 25% in three prior games.

Think about that – a 24-point difference from beyond the arc!

And then you look at the work on the glass where CSU had been very average but Montana State had been worse than average coming into the game. Yet somehow the Bobcats had found a way to stay even with the Rams throughout the game.

The teams traded punches throughout the entire first half that ended with the Rams leading 34-32 but there were big concerns. Adam Thistlewood, the Rams’ top sub was saddled with three fouls. Big Niko Carvacho had picked up a couple of really marginal fouls as well. And when guard Anthony Masinton-Bonner had to be helped off the floor in the final minute, it became obvious this was a game that was very much in the balance, unlike the two earlier blowouts the Rams had played on their home floor.

And when the Rams started slowly and the Bobcats heated up, the mood of the game had taken an obvious turn toward the visitors as they repeatedly drained shots from the perimeter, scrapped for rebounds, and won the 50/50 balls.

The Rams continued to struggle from the perimeter but the guards were finding their way to the rim. Senior JD Paige was leading the way. Masinton-Bonner, gutting it out on an obviously painful ankle, and Kendle Moore also had successful parries to the rim. Center Niko Carvacho was giving the Bobcats fits underneath but foul trouble had him playing irregular minutes.

The Rams trailed 62-57 after a pair of Tyler Hall three-balls pushed the Bobcats to the front and forced Nike Medved to take a timeout. The Rams came out of the timeout flying, cut the deficit to one and forced a missed shot. But Montana State gathered the board, the ball came to Hall who drained another tough three-pointer.

That could have been a dagger.

The Rams could have hung their heads and figured that maybe it wasn’t their night.

They didnt.

They fought their way back with Paige scoring at the rim and tied the game inside of two minutes at 71 all. The Rams defended gamely and forced a turnover and quickly flew down the court. The ball came to Masinton-Bonner who immediately rose up and fired.

Swish!

Prior to that shot Bonner had been 0-4 from deep.

The Rams continued to defend, forcing misses and grabbing rebounds. Montana State was forced to foul and the Rams calmly put the game away when Carvacho, Paige, and Bonner each made a pair down the stretch.

Paige would finish with 23, Carvacho would record his 3rd straight double-double with 15 and 13. Bonner finished with 14 and Moore 11. Doobie Jenkins was the unsung hero, finishing the game with 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the perimeter; he had tried to show the Rams the way from outside but the rest of the team was 1-23 until Bonner’s game breaker. Montana State’s Hall finished with a game-high 30.

Yes the Rams had shot poorly. Yes they had spurts of shoddy defense and got worked on the glass. Give the opponents credit for some of that. But also give the Rams credit for taking care of the basketball because in the end it was the turnover margin (only 7 to MSU’s 15) that gave the Rams the possessions they needed to overcome the tremendous disparity in three-point shooting.

On a night where the Rams repeatedly had doors slamming shut in their faces, they didn’t take no for an answer and somehow managed to stick their foot into a small opening, forcing themselves all the way in when it mattered most.

Paper is just paper.

This was real. And it was good.

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