The No. 13 CSU Rams ran into a buzzsaw in the Saint Mary’s Gaels elite defense last night.

Colorado State is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, but the Gaels’ 10th-best defense won the day, limiting the Rams to a season-low 61 points in the 64-61 loss.

CSU was again without starter Josiah Strong (broken wrist) and 6th man Jalen Lake (broken finger) and their lack of offensive production was evident without those two.

It was Niko Medved’s team’s first loss of the season, and the CSU Rams now sit at 9-1 overall, with their AP Top-25 ranking in question. Will the green and gold remain in the rankings tomorrow? We’ll see.

Stock Up: Stars shone brightly for CSU Rams

Isaiah Stevens

Stevens was good, even if he wasn’t his usual great last night. He finished with a game-high 20 points, which was solid, but his 6-16 shooting left something to be desired. Not only that, but Stevens finished with a season-low three assists.

Stevens doesn’t usually need to shoot that many times, but with others not contributing, he tried to take over. He did have a 3-pointer that would’ve tied the game with 10 seconds to go, but that was off, unfortunately.

Nique Clifford

Clifford, another of the Rams’ stars, played well. He ended the game with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. He too had a somewhat off shooting night, going 4-10 from the field, but he also added 3 assists to his stat line.

Just like Stevens, Clifford had a 3-point attempt to tie it up, but missed.

Patrick Cartier

Cartier has battled back to play through his injured back, and he’s been great for CSU.

The CSU Rams big man scored 16 last night on an efficient 5-7 shooting. However, he did have zero rebounds, which is an area he and the team need to address going forward.

Cartier has been a strong defensive presence down low, and he’s also shown the ability to score in multiple ways. He’ll continue to be a crucial piece for the rest of the way for this team on both ends.

Stock Down: Rams team offense struggled vs. Gaels’ D

Lack of assists

Not only was Stevens way off his second in the nation pace (8.1 APG) with only 3 dimes, the Rams had only 12 assists in the game. That was way off their pace (21 APG) and dropped their season average to 19.6 assists per contest.

Basketball is the quintessential team sport. When the entire team is involved, through unselfish play and passing, they can usually find ways to score with ease. That’s how the Rams have played all season long, outside of Saturday night.

Simply, there aren’t enough scorers on the floor without Lake and Strong, so Stevens and the stars had to take over. These CSU Rams need to win with team basketball and 4-5 guys scoring in double digits.

Team shooting

Something that went hand-in-hand with the lack of assists was the team’s poor shooting percentage.

Their 36.7% from the floor was easily the worst of the season, as they made 46.7% from the floor against No. 8 Creighton in that win.

The way this CSU Rams team has excelled is by sharing the ball—as mentioned in the last point—and that opens up for easy, open buckets. When they’re not passing well, they’re forcing shots and taking ones with a much higher levels of difficulty.

Even with the poor shooting night, Colorado State is still 5th in the nation in shooting percentage, making 52.0% from the floor. Here’s hoping they can get back to that unselfish basketball with more assists and open looks at the rim.

Joel Scott

Scott had his worst game in DI and at Colorado State last night.

The team’s second-leading scorer usually averages 13.2 points per game, but he could only muster 2 points in the loss. He managed to add 5 rebounds and 1 assist, but didn’t do nearly enough for the Rams to win.

He’s another one of the team’s stars and they’ve relied on his scoring all year long. Especially without Strong and Lake, he needed to step up and simply had a down game. It happens.

Luckily for Colorado State, they have a full week off before playing their next contest against CSU-Pueblo next Sunday, which should be a layup.

The CSU Rams need to get healthy, and the week off will help, although Strong and Lake will still be out for multiple weeks longer.