FORT COLLINS –– Someone had to come out on top.
In a back-and-forth contest against Nevada Wednesday, Colorado State simply never gave in, knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot. None bigger than the one by Rams freshman Isaiah Stevens, who raced across the court before side-stepping and delivering a nothing-but-net, game-winning buzzer-beater to defeat Nevada, 92-91, and snap an eight-game losing streak to the Wolfpack.
𝑻𝑯𝑬 𝑺𝑯𝑶𝑻 pic.twitter.com/QasUx1iZYO
— Colorado State Men’s Basketball (@CSUMBasketball) January 30, 2020
“Coach (Niko) Medved told me that I had more than enough time with 5.3 to get down the court and get a shot that I like,” Stevens said. “And to just not rush myself, let the shot come to me, see what develops in front of me and then go make a play.”
As wild and unpredictable as the affair unfolded, it’s only fitting that Stevens capped the memorable evening at Moby on an emphatic note. Wednesday’s miraculous jumper marks his second game-winner at the horn thus far in his young career, with the first occurring in a victory over Loyola-Chicago.
To say the least, the Texas native knows how to perform in crunch time.
“He’s (Stevens) a walking bucket, that’s all I gotta say.” sophomore forward Adam Thistlewood said. “It’s amazing to see a young player be this great this early in his career. He is just going to keep going from here.”
Despite a valiant effort the visitors, CSU (15-8, 6-4) furiously stormed back down the stretch upon erasing a 10-point deficit and pulling ahead 89-85 in the final minute. Nearly making the comeback all for naught, Nevada’s Jalen Harris added to the affair’s drama by sinking a go-ahead 3-pointer with four seconds remaining to seize a 91-89 edge.
Suddenly, you could hear a pin drop in the once-roaring Moby Arena. Though CSU was down, Medved’s resilient squad was truly never out. Stevens’ game-winner broke the eerie silence and created a court-storming frenzy.
While CSU’s first-year phenom sent the packed house of fans home happy, sophomore forward Adam Thistlewood largely accounted for the Rams’ ability to stay within striking distance earlier in the second half.
In the best 20-minute segment of Thistlewood’s career, the sharpshooter totaled 22 of his team-most 24 points off 6-8 converted field goals. Not only did the sophomore fill up the stat sheet en route to a career-best outing, he came through when the Rams needed him most.
Following a big-time block from David Roddy on the defensive end, Thistlewood drained a corner triple to bring the crowd to life. Representing an evident turning point, the shot cut CSU’s deficit to one with less than two minutes left.
“When he (Roddy) rotated over and blocked that shot, that was a game-changing play…And Adam Thistlewood was phenomenal tonight, especially in the middle part of the game,” Medved said.
Speaking of Roddy, the freshman star rose to the occasion as well in the latter stages. Amounting to an 18-point showing, the forward converted a timely layup with time winding down to give the Rams an 87-85 advantage –– their first lead since early in the stanza.
Though impressively nailed 14 attempts from beyond the arc and scored 36 points in the paint, every Ram who took the floor contributed vitally –– which combated Harris’ 31-tally night effectively.
A resurged Nico Carvacho also kept the Rams afloat, particularly early. Overall, the redshirt senior went on to accumulate 16 points while hauling in 13 crucial rebounds.
“What an unbelievable college basketball game,” Medved said. “When I shook Coach Alford’s hand at the end of the game, he said the same thing. Guys were just making plays. Jalen Harris was just unreal tonight. But our guys just did what they did all year. We continue to stick with it. We fight for 40 minutes…I think all of these victories are part of the process of continuing to get better and build. I like that this team is getting better in so many areas.”
Upon snapping its lengthy skid against the Wolfpack, CSU now stands in a four-way tie in the Mountain West standings alongside Utah State, Boise State and Nevada.
Up next, CSU hosts UNLV (11-11, 6-3) on Saturday afternoon as it looks to ride the high from Wednesday night a little longer. And though the outcome of the Rams’ upcoming clash could go either way, it’s safe to assume CSU will approach the action as passionately as Wednesday if the Moby faithful decide to jolt energy into the arena again.
“You could see it in the fans in how excited they got and how loud that place got,” Thistlewood said. “We feed off that. The more fans we can get, the more we are going to feed off them and the better we are going to play.”