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First Half Defensive Masterclass Launches Rams to 73-53 Smashing of Air Force

January 23, 2022

Playing in front of what have felt like a near home crowd, the Colorado State Rams delivered a devastating defensive performance from the opening whistle. And when their offense kicked into gear in the final six minutes, the result was a 17-2 run, a halftime lead of 31-17 and a springboard to a famous victory. The Rams offense continued the onslaught in the second half, the Falcons never got close than 13, and Moby South was theirs.

How good was the defense in the first half?

They held the Falcons to 17 points on 20.8% shooting. The game plan was to focus on limiting paint scoring while making sure that Falcon perimeter shots were contested. And limit they did. Falcon freshman Joseph Taylor scored an early two on a tough turnaround jumped on the games very first possession. He then scored a layup at the 16 minute mark.

THOSE WOULD BE THE FALCONS’ ONLY TWO POINT BASKETS FOR THE HALF!

The Rams limited them to 2-14 shooting from close, contesting everything physically and blocking several, the best of which was a David Roddy rejection of what looked like an obvious score by the Flyboys’ Nikc Jackson (sidenote – who spells their name Nikc?).

And they held the perimeter game to 3-10 shooting, two of which were contested.

A total of 5 first half field goals for the Falcons, three of which were well-contested.

Eventually the offense caught up as Kendle Moore kept the Rams in contact with Isaiah Stevens benched with a pair of fouls. The 17-2 run began with a David Roddy three-ball, followed on the next possession by an Isaiah Rivera three-ball and the Rams were on their way. Stevens returned for a few minutes to run the show, Moore made another three-ball and theb Rams went into the room with a healthy lead.

And seeing them close up, they were exhausted. The combination of effort and intensity alongside the higher elevation at the Academy had them fatigued. After operating at a less than optimal level earlier in the week against New Mexico, they had come full circle and it was a beautiful moment.

Isaiah Rivera

The second half was more of an offensive show as Isaiah Stevens conducted a an efficient offense that shot nearly 70% and easily held the Falcons at bay. The single highlight was a most amazing David Roddy dunk over Falcon frosh Lucas Moermann, but their were other notable contributions as well. John Tonje delivered one of his classic ”Bull in a China Shop” performances, on his way to 15 points. Isaiah Rivera followed Tonje’s lead, scoring 8.

The Rams one-two punch of Roddy and Stevens would finish the game with a combined 32 points on 13-16 shooting. But in the end, it was a consummate team effort, as the Rams held the previous hot Falcons to a season low Offensive Rating, while shooting 57% from the floor on the offensive end.

David Roddy’s Dunk

Was a jaw-dropping moment for those of us who got to witness it in person. It came in transition with Isaiah Stevens in possession of the ball. Stevens made a subtle move to the right as if he was going to settle for an open three-pointer. That move dragged a defender a step and opened up the driving lane for Roddy. A pass from Stevens, space for Roddy and then IT HAPPENED.

Obviously a lot of fun on Twitter as a result of the dunk. None better than this.

Moby South

I made the road trip, my first trip out of Fort Collins in months. I was joined by a large contingent of Rams fans wearing their green and cheering loudly. Air Force crowds have been in the 1000 range but their were nearly 3000 at the game yesterday. I don’t think the difference was all Ram fans but it had to be close. The energy of the crowd felt no worse than 50/50 for the Rams.

My trip to the academy from Fort Collins was a piece of cake. I arrived at the Academy in an hour and 35 minutes but then there was the security gate. I showed ID, was asked to put my car in park and unlock my trunk to check for weapons. Thank God I didn’t have my handy-dandy home rocket launcher in the back or I might have never made the game.

Of course this led to long lines getting inside the academy grounds and a late arriving Ram crowd. I wonder if the security issues on game day are a big reason why Air Force attendance figures as so low in their key sports.

The Elevation Effect at the Academy is Real

So we know Fort Collins is just under 5000 feet. Moby South is at nearly 7000. When I talked to Coach Medved post-game and told him how fantastic the first half effort was, he told me that several of the players could feel the elevation difference.

But after the game I got even further confirmation from someone who could talk about it from a different perspective.

You may not be aware but CSU’s Adam Thistlewood dates Lauren Gale, CSU track and field star and Olympian. She was talking with Adam and family post-game. She had just finished running and winning the 400M race at the Air Force Invitational held in the adjoining field house. Ran 52 and change, an extremely fast time indoors.

Knowing that the 400m is an anaerobic type of race, I asked her if she felt the effects of the altitude more at the Academy. She said she definitely did during the race.

Seats Close to the Floor and Bad Officiating Don’t Mix For Me

So I just happened to be seated close to the floor. And the three officials just happened to be having a not-so-good game. One ref had worked the Nevada game in Reno the night before which ended at 12:15AM MST; he caught an early flight to make a Noon game at the academy. Guy was completely disengaged the entire game. Another official has been very anti-CSU everytime he calls a Ram game; I hammered on him prety good. As in ”Hey Casas, you’re awful. That’s right, you’re awful. You heard me, you’re awful”. He knew I was right. Next two whistles from him went CSU’s way. I probably shouldnt take credit; the calls were so obvious even Stevie Wonder would have got them right.

And I close with this…

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