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Rams Fall 88-83 To Northern Colorado

December 4, 2022

I was going to write something clever in the Header. Something to the effect of Bears Drop Deuces, Rams Drop a Deuce but I decided against it. Because it was a little too esoteric. And Because it was more, so much more than the visitors from Greeley having a first half layup line.

It was a complete failure from the very top of the program all the way through the last player on the bench as the visitors from Greeley went home with a famous rivalry win. The Rams came out of the gate with little fire and looked completely unprepared to defend the visitors. An early 9-5 lead quickly fell away from an 8-point UNC run which put the Rams in catch up mode the rest of the game.

How bad was the first half defense you ask? The Bears came into the game as the 360th ranked team in all of Division 1 in 2-point scoring as a percentage of total scoring. Down around 35% of their scoring. In the first half, 30 of their 37 points, a whopping 81% of their points came on 2’s. The last one came in the final seconds when the Rams had three – yes three fouls to give to prevent a score and chose to sit back and watch UNC score at the buzzer. The staff was either asleep at the wheel or apathetic to the game situation. Every possession, every hoop counts the same!

Rams trailed 37-34 at the break but it felt worse.

And it immediately got worse as the Bears cranked up their perimeter shooting, dropping 7 in a row in the first 5 minutes, forcing a Rams timeout, growing their lead to 62-49. A timeout that came about 4 makes too late.

To the Rams credit, they fought their way back to a 1-point lead at the 4:00 mark as bigs James Moors and Patrick Cartier scored inside and out. The lead was short-lived as the Bears All Big Sky guard Daylen Kountz took over the game.

Kountz had spent the entire game penetrating across the lane and spinning to his favored left hand. THE ENTIRE GAME FOR GOD’s SAKE! And when the moment of truth arrived in the final four minutes, the Rams had no defensive answer to keep Kountz from spinning to his left hand. No double teams to get the ball out of his hands. No help arriving on the back end of the spin. Same defense, same result as Kountz finished at the rim or the free throw line.

And yet somehow the Rams were only down 1, trailing 84-83 with 26 seconds remaining. Plenty of time for some last minute heroics. A trap, a steal, a forced turnover. But poor effort on the UNC inbound allowed the visitors too much freedom and 5 seconds later, the Rams fouled the Bears Matt Johnson, the best free throw shooter on the floor. A 90% shooter. THATS RIGHT. THE 90% SHOOTER! Not the 70% shooter, not the 80% shooter. THE 90% shooter. When a miss is desperately needed, you cant foul the 90% shooter with 20 seconds on the clock.

A 3-point deficit and the Rams still had a chance. But normally cool, calm, and collected closer Isaiah Stevens forced the potential game tieing shot and the result was an air ball. Another easy inbound, another foul, another pair of free throws and the Bears had what they came for.

Kountz would finish with 27, Johnson and Dalton Knecht would add 18 each for the visitors. Moors and Cartier would combine for 37 points from the center position. Stevens would add 20 and Jalen Lake 11.

But in the end, it was the Bears shooting a whopping 57%. Resulting in a whopping 1.26 points per possession. The worst the Rams had allowed in prior games was 1.04 points per possession.

Unprepared, disinterested, apathetic. Pick your adjective. The Bears came to play and earned the win. The Rams were nothing but passengers on their way to an NCAA resume damaging Quad 4 loss.

Other Stuff

Swoll Man of the Match – Has to be Patrick Cartier, the 6’8” , 220lb transfer center. Cartier shot 7-11 on his two pointers, 3-4 on his three pointers to finish with 23 points and 3 rebounds in only 22 minutes on the floor. Cartier has now moved to tops of the MWC stats as the most efficient, high volume offensive player.

Tonje and Rivera Seen on a Milk Carton – The Rams two leading scorers were essentially no shows. Coming into the game, they have been combining for about 29 points per game. Today they had 6. All from Tonje, who shot 1-7 from the field. Rivera went scoreless, attempting only 1 shot. Yes they were both poor. And if the Rams are going to fulfill their potential, they cannot have games like this. But in the grand scheme of things, 83 points should have been enough to win a game. John and Isaiah were just part of the collective poor defensive effort that cost the Rams any chance of victory.

Choirboy Killers – The M.O. of this program under Coach Niko Medved has been choirboys off the court but absolute killers on the court. Today they were choirboys on the court playing what looked like a summer pickup game. No toughness, no edginess, no nasty that’s required in a D-1 game.

One Final Thought – The Rams travel to Boulder for their first meeting with the Mighty Buffs in three years. It’s a rivalry game. I’m guessing the Buffs won’t play like choirboys.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ken Reed permalink
    December 4, 2022 9:53 pm

    Was Rivera hurt or anything? Hard to believe he didn’t score if healthy.

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