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A late 10-0 run put the game away for Colorado State, as the home team earned an 87-72 win over a pesky Arkansas-Fort Smith, Dec. 19. With their sixth straight home win this season, the Rams improved to 6-6 overall on the season while the game was an exhibition for the Division II Lions, who are ranked No. 5 in the nation currently.
This was a back-and-forth affair with six ties and 11 lead changes in the game, the last coming with just under 10 minutes to play in the contest as CSU went up 61-60 on a Deion James’ tip in. The margin was no more than four over the next four minutes of action before the Rams put on an 8-0 run over 2:30 to take a 73-64 lead. The gap shrunk to as little as six with 4:01 to go but CSU had another surge, this time 10-0 to put the game out of reach in the final minute of play as the Rams closed out the win.
In the opening 20 minutes, the two teams battled in the first seven minutes to a near stalemate, with UAFS lead 14-13. From there, CSU went on a 14-2 run over an eight-minute span to take its largest lead of the first half at 27-16. However, the Lions clawed back to cut it to a two-point game before CSU went into the break with a slim 42-39 advantage.
Both teams shot the ball well, as CSU finished the night 33-of-47 (44.6 percent) while UAFS was 27-of-61 (44.3 percent). The Rams won the battle of the boards 41-39 and forced 17 Lions’ turnovers while giving up just six. CSU also added six blocks on the night and eight steals while outscoring the visitors 38-24 on points in the paint.
James, a junior forward, led the Rams with a season-high 22 points on 8-of-12 field goals along with nine rebounds. Junior guard Prentiss Nixon added 17 points, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal, while redshirt-junior guard J.D. Paige chipped in 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Redshirt-sophomore guard Anthony Bonner was the other Ram in double figures with 12 points along with four rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. UAFS was led by Darrion Strong-Moore with 15 points, while Chris Crawford and Ladarius Coleman contributed 12 and 10, respectively.