Colorado State did what neither team could do over the last four years; the Rams won at their home arena Saturday early afternoon over their rival, the Colorado Buffaloes.

While CU entered the game on fire, at 6-0 overall, CSU was fresh off a loss to Missouri State on Tuesday and 3-4 overall, in need of a win in what head coach Larry Eustachy called the team’s “most important non-conference game.”

And for the first time all season long, the Rams came out with enough energy and effort on both ends of the floor to beat nearly anyone on Saturday. For the first time this year, we saw the extra effort needed for teams to win under Larry Eustachy, who allows players to do what they like on offense while emphasizing tough defense and hard-nosed rebounding.

The Rams started strong due to their big man Nico Carvacho grabbing nine rebounds in the first half alone and blocking a career-high four shots, and Prentiss Nixon gave the home team the 3-point lead at halftime over CU.

After the break, Colorado State pushed their lead to eight on a 6-0 run, then 12, then as much as 17. But the Buffs stormed back on the shoulders of McKinley Wright, who scored 11 straight points to bring the game within six with 5:28 to go. From there, the Buffs couldn’t hit desperation 3-pointers and the Rams cemented the win from the free throw line.

“It was definitely our most complete game,” Prentiss Nixon said after the win, in which he and J.D. Paige tied for a team-high 16 points.

Colorado State won on the strength of 46 rebounds, 12 more than CU, as well as nine blocked shots. They not only won the game in the paint on defense, but Eustachy said after the game the team made a concerted effort to get the ball down low to avoid settling for too many jumpers. And most of all, they won by out-efforting the Buffs.

“I liked how hard we played the whole game,” Eustachy said after the win. “I’m really proud of them.”