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Colorado State knocks No. 23 Nevada out of Mountain West Conference tournament

MWC Nevada Colorado St Basketball
Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 00:33:38-04

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jalen Lake scored 16 points, Isaiah Stevens added 15 and Colorado State beat No. 23 Nevada 85-78 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

The Rams (24-9), the No. 7 seed, never trailed after the 17:06 mark of the first half. Nique Clifford had 14 points and nine rebounds for Colorado State, and Joe Palmer added 12 points.

"I told the guys I'm not going to call any plays. We're just going to go," Colorado State coach Nico Medved said. "I told Isaiah to not even look at me, just go. I think our motion offense was good."

Jared Lucas led the second-seeded Wolf Pack (26-7) with 18 points. Kenan Blackshear added 16 points for Nevada and Tylan Pope scored 10.

"We beat them twice this year," said Lucas, who hit a half-court shot to beat the Rams 77-74 on Feb. 27. "We knew they would come out and give us their best shot."

Colorado State maintained a mostly double-digit lead until Lucas made two free throws to cut the lead to 72-63 with 7:07 left. Nevada later trimmed it to 74-69 on a layup by K.J. Hymes with 5:15 left, but the Rams then pushed the lead back up to nine points about a minute later.

Nevada didn't get closer than four points in the final four minutes.

"We just played our offense," Clifford said. "Everybody was playing carefree and playing with confidence."

The Rams held a 43-28 lead going into the final seconds of the first half. But Nevada's Daniel Foster converted a second-chance layup with four seconds left. Then the Wolf Pack's Tyler Roleson stole the ball around midcourt just before the buzzer and was fouled as he attempted to heave up a shot. Roleson converted three free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 43-33 at the half.

Colorado State shot 54% (14 of 26) from the field for the first half while Nevada made only 38% (8 of 21).

"It's March, these are all one-game seasons," Medved said. "It's all we talk about now. There's a desperation for every team right now."


COLORADO STATE: The Rams started the season winning 13 of their first 14 games, but down the stretch were 4-4 to finish tied for sixth in the conference. All five starters for the Rams are either graduate seniors (Scott, Josiah Strong, Stevens and Patrick Cartier) or seniors (Clifford).

NEVADA: The Wolf Pack entered the quarterfinal having won seven straight games and 10 out of 11. They also are a veteran team, with four starters either graduate seniors or seniors.


Colorado State will play the winner of Thursday night's final quarterfinal matchup between third-seeded Boise State and No. 6 seed New Mexico.


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