The sophomore guard hit the highly-contested shot with 1.2 seconds to play for the victory
DENTON, Texas – Sophomore guard Isaiah Stevens’ highly-contested driving layup with 1.2 seconds to play lifted No. 1 seed Colorado State to a dramatic 75-73 win over No .4 seed Buffalo in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament Friday night. With the win, the Rams improved to 19-6 on the season while the Bulls ended at 16-9.
This was an instant classic as neither team led by more than eight points in the contest. After trailing 34-33 at the intermission, CSU continued to be aggressive on both ends of the floor and eventually had the biggest lead of the game at 59-51 with 8:52 to go. UB rallied with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to take a three-point lead. The rest of the way was back and forth, with teams trading leads to the final seconds.
After having its lead cut to one at 71-70 with 53 seconds to play, CSU made the two plays it needed for the win. Stevens ran the offense to perfection in getting the dish for an easy layup to sophomore forward David Roddy to go up 3. Buffalo answered with a triple to tie the game with 14 seconds to go, but the Rams did not call a timeout and set up the final play drama, with the local kid scoring the final points. UB inbounded the ball long, but Roddy intercepted the pass to seal the victory and advance the Rams in the postseason.
For the game, Colorado State finished at 44.3 percent (31-of-70) from the floor and 35.0 percent (7-of-20) from the three-point line. Buffalo was 47. 6 percent (30-of-63) on field goals and 33.3 percent (7-of-21) behind the arc. CSU met and held its own against Buffalo on the boards, as the Bulls came in as the nation’s leader in rebounds per game (43.96), second in offensive rebounds (14.88 per game) and 10th in rebound margin (+8.4). In this game, Buffalo led 39-37, did have 13 offensive rebounds but only converted that into at 10-8 advantage in second chance points. CSU also led 44-38 on points in the paint.
CSU was led by Roddy with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Stevens finished with 14 points (six of those in the final three minutes) and nine assists. Junior guard Adam Thistlewood had 14 points, including four three-pointers, while freshman center James Moors added 11 points and five boards. Buffalo also had four in double figures, led by Jeenathan Williams’ game-high 21 points.
STAT OF THE GAME
• The Rams forced 14 UB turnovers and converted that into a 17-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
• CSU evened up the series at one win each, with both meetings on neural courts.
• The Rams improved to 8-9 all-time in the NIT in their 10th appearance in the event.
• Colorado State is now 18-2 this season when scoring at least 70 points and improved to 16-0 when leading with two minutes remaining.
• Head coach Niko Medved is now 4-2 in postseason action in his career as a head coach.
• Junior guard Kendle Moore tied a career high with seven rebounds along with his six points.
• Sophomore forward Dischon Thomas also tied his career best with seven boards to go with his seven points off the bench.
• Thistlewood moved into a tie for fifth on CSU’s career three-pointers chart at 158, putting him with Daniel Bejarano (2011-15)
• The Rams will return to the Lone Star State next week, taking on NC State in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 25. The game will be played at UNT Coliseum in Denton, Texas, with the time to be determined and televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
COURTESY COLORADO STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS