The Rams are resilient, but once again it was too little, too late.
Colorado State came into New Mexico knowing a win would mean a tie in the Mountain West Conference with the Lobos, and they played well to start.
Center Colton Iverson went to work, scoring seven points early, while grabbing lots of rebounds. But New Mexico was carried by Tony Snell's stellar shooting, going 5-11 in the first half to lead all scorers with 14. It was a close, seesaw battle for most of the first half, until both Dorian Green and Greg Smith had to sit due to foul trouble.
With six minutes to go before halftime, both Smith and Green were out and the Rams could score only two points while the Lobos ended the half on an 8-0 run to lead 35-25.
In fact, it ended up being a 7:30 minute dry spell for Colorado State, when Greg Smith finally hit a jumper in the second half. And that stat is evidence of the difficulties the Rams had all second half. Nothing went their way; they turned the ball over, missed open shots and committed silly fouls. Both Smith and Pierce Hornung picked up their fourth fouls and soon thereafter the Lobos pushed their lead to 20.
CSU tried to come back – Daniel Bejarano dunked it, Wes Eikmeier hit a three and then Green drained one from downtown in transition – and just like that, the Rams were down 56-44 with eight minutes to play. Green's three free throw make brought it to eight at 57-49 as the Lobos went on a seven minute scoring drought of their own – it was a remarkable 17-3 scoring run by the Rams. In fact, they got all the way to within three points when Eikmeier stole the ball and hit a deep three, but it was too little, too late.
The Lobos won 66-61 and improved to 17-2, 4-0 MWC while the Rams fell to 15-4, 2-2 MWC.
For New Mexico, capitalizing off of CSU turnovers was key. The Rams turned it over 16 times and scored 22 points off of those, more than the difference in the game.
Colorado State rebounded very well, winning there 42-28, but they also left 10 points off the scoreboard from the free throw line. They are now 2-4 on the road this season.
Eikmeier's 20 points were a high for CSU, while Snell's 23 were a game-high. Iverson recorded a double-double of 15 and 14.
The Rams will now have two days off before playing at Fresno State (7-10, 1-3 MWC) Saturday at 8 p.m. MT.