After winning 10 of their last 11 games, Colorado State put itself in a chance to win their first regular season conference title since 1989-90. But the Rams couldn’t fend off an incredible performance from Cameron Oliver, falling 71-58 to Nevada.
The Mountain West champion Wolf Pack will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s conference tournament, while the Rams (21-10, 13-5) draw the No. 2 seed.
CSU came out shooting, hitting 6-of-12 and jumping out to an early 14-8 lead. The Rams had success on both ends of the floor, getting balanced scoring and closing out on Nevada shooters.
As the half progressed, Gian Clavell started to catch fire. At one point, the senior guard scored 15 of 17 points for CSU. But the Wolf Pack climbed back into the contest, taking advantage of a stretch where the Rams went 1-for-5 from the field to end the half.
The Rams took a 42-40 lead into halftime even with Emmanuel Omogbo and Nico Carvacho in foul trouble. CSU shot 52 percent in the first half compared to 42 percent for Nevada. Both teams went 8-of-17 from beyond the arc.
CSU’s lead was short-lived in the second stanza as Nevada’s Oliver started to take over. The Wolf Pack grabbed their first lead at the 15:07 mark and never looked back. While Oliver continued to rack up the points and rebounds, the Rams couldn’t get anything going offensively to answer.
The green and gold went just 2-of-15 to begin the second half, opening up the floodgates for Nevada. Clavell failed to record his first points of the final frame until the 9:04 mark. CSU’s leading scorer finished with 33 points on 10-of-22 shooting.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Oliver – The Mountain West player of the year candidate totaled 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. The sophomore flashed his all-around game, scoring from inside and outside, in addition to being a force on the defensive end.
BY THE NUMBERS
8 – Nevada grabbed eight more rebounds than the Rams. In the 12 games that CSU has lost the rebounding battle, the Rams are just 4-8.
16 – Points in the paint for CSU, compared to 34 for the Wolf Pack
20 – Nevada points off CSU turnovers
CSU’s conference tournament slate begins Thursday with a matchup against the winner of Wyoming/Air Force. The Rams blew out the Falcons in their lone regular season matchup and swept the series with the Cowboys, though the two games were decided by a combined seven points.