CSU moves on to play Memphis on Saturday at 10 am MT on ESPN
FRISCO, Texas – No. 1 seed Colorado State grabbed the lead midway through the second half and never relinquished it, making plays in the final minutes to defeat No. 3 seed North Carolina State, 65-61, in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night. With the win, the Rams improved to 20-6 on the season while the Wolfpack ended at 14-11. This is the first time that CSU has had back-to-back 20-win seasons since 2011-12 and 2012-13, when current head coach Niko Medved was an assistant on the staff.
The Rams trailed by three, 28-25, at the break after making just 27.6 percent of its shots by utilizing a strong defensive effort and 8-of-9 at the free throw line. NC State hit the first shot of the second half to go up six but CSU chipped away at it, taking its first lead at 38-35. The Wolfpack answered to go back up 41-40, but CSU scored the next six points to grab a 46-41 lead with 10:43 to play. NC State cut it back to one but a 7-0 run gave the Rams the largest lead of the game at 55-47.
The game stayed tight the rest of the way, as David Roddy’s fadeaway with 1:21 to play put CSU up 63-59 with 1:21 remaining. A missed shot bounded around underneath before DJ Funderburk grabbed it and slammed it to make it a two-point margin. CSU missed its next shot and went on defense, and the Rams held strong, forcing an erratic three attempt and grabbing the rebound. NC State was forced to foul several times, with Kendle Moore knocking down a pair of free throws with six seconds to play to seal the victory.
CSU finished the game hitting 44.1 percent (26-of-59) from the floor and just 13.0 percent (3-of-23) from the three-point arc. NC State finished at 43.9 percent (25-of-57) on field goals and just 22.7 percent (5-of-22) on threes. The Rams converted on 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) from the charity stripe, while NC State was just 6-of-9 (66.7 percent). The Wolfpack held a 36-31 advantage on the boards, but the two teams were even with eight second-chance points each. CSU forced 17 NC State turnovers with 11 steals and turned that into a 15-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
For the Rams, Isaiah Stevens led the squad in scoring with a game-high 18 points, 12 coming in the second half, and four assists. Roddy recorded the double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Moore also added 16 points. NC State had three in double figures, led by Jericole Hellems with 15.
STAT OF THE GAME
• Though undersized in height, the Rams took advantage of their quickness and team play to outscore the Wolfpack 40-34 in the paint.
• This was the first time the two programs met on the hardwood.
• This is also just the fourth time in program history that the Rams have had 20 wins in back-to-back seasons.
• The Rams are now 9-9 in the National Invitation Tournament and advance to the semifinals for just the second time in its 10 appearances, with the previous coming in 1988 when CSU finished third.
• CSU is now 13-2 on the season when holding an opponent under 70 points and is 6-1 in games decided by five points or less.
• The 11 steals for CSU are a season high, as this was the first time since Feb. 4, 2020 that the Rams had 10 or more steals
• Roddy’s double-double was his 12th of the season and 14th of his career, moving him into a tie for 11th on CSU’s career charts.
• Roddy scored in double figures for the 22nd time this season, Stevens for the 21st and Moore for the 16th.
• The Rams will play Memphis in the NIT Semifinals on Saturday, March 27, with the tip time at 10 am MT on ESPN. The game will be played at Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.
COURTESY COLORADO STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS