FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – Anthony Marshall took a seat on the courtside media table and dejectedly soaked in the scene as the Moby Arena crowd stormed the court.
He watched for several minutes as fans celebrated Colorado State’s 66-59 victory over 17th-ranked UNLV on Wednesday night.
The Runnin’ Rebels blew a 16-point second-half lead and fell out of a first-place tie in the Mountain West Conference with New Mexico and San Diego State.
The Rebels (24-7, 8-5) have watched fans storm the court in each of their last four road games.
“Embarrassed, angry, disappointed,” said Marshall, who didn’t dart to the locker room like many of his teammates so he could take in the scene around him.
“That’s something I’ll use as motivation and try not to let it happen again,” he said. “When you’ve got a big target on your back like we do, it happens. They played great the second half.”
Not so the Rebels, who were outscored 35-12 after Oscar Bellfield‘s fifth 3-pointer put them ahead 47-31.
All seven of the Rebels’ losses have come on the road, where they are 2-5 in league play.
“I really don’t know what’s going on,” Anthony said. “We’ve just got to keep battling. We’ve still got a lot to play for.”
Indeed, the Rebels return home to face Wyoming on Saturday, then host the Mountain West tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center, where they haven’t lost yet.
After that, though, they’ll hit the road again for the NCAA tournament.
The Rebels figured their road woes were behind them when they jumped out to a 41-26 halftime lead in Fort Collins, then stretched that lead to 16 in the opening minutes of the second half before the Rams stormed back to win for the 13th straight time at Moby.
“We’ve just got to get the same swagger we’re playing with at home,” Marshall said. “In the first half we played like that. In the second half, we didn’t.”
Therefore, Marshall won’t argue that the Rebels’ mental toughness following consecutive road losses at Wyoming, TCU, New Mexico and Colorado State deserves to be questioned.
“Definitely. We haven’t showcased that,” he said.
The Rams, on the other hand, burnished their NCAA credentials with their third straight home win over a ranked team.
Dorian Green scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime and Pierce Hornung‘s five offensive rebounds and energy in the second half secured the Rams’ first unbeaten home conference record in more than 50 years.
The Rams outscored the Rebels 40-18 in the second half.
“The second half was a complete 180 for us,” Green said.
The last time the Rams (18-10, 7-6) went unbeaten at home in league play was the 1960-61 season in the old Mountain States Conference.
“We’ve certainly had some difficult losses this year and this is absolutely right at the top,” Runnin’ Rebels coach Dave Rice said. “I was so proud of the way we came out against a very good Colorado State team and had our way in the first half, and then in the second half we ran out of gas.”
The Rebels got 17 points from Bellfield, but he had just one basket in the second half, a 3-pointer that put UNLV ahead 47-31.
From that point, the Rams outscored the Rebels 35-12, thanks largely to Green slicing through the lane for buckets at the rim and the play of Hornung on the offensive glass. He pulled down five offensive boards in the second half and had two big stick-back baskets in the closing minutes to keep the Rebels at bay.
“I give Colorado State a ton of credit for how good they’ve been at home and their perseverance in this game,” Rice said.
As they talked about at halftime, the Rams attacked the basket and secured the ball in the second half, chipping away until Green’s three-point play with 7 minutes left put them ahead for the first time, 53-52.
The Rebels, who had won 16 of their previous 18 meetings with Colorado State, regained the lead at 54-53 on Moser’s two free throws, but Green replied with a baseline jumper to put the Rams back on top for good.
“Give Colorado State credit. It’s a lot harder to run when you’re taking the ball out of bounds,” Rice said. “They shot 48 percent in the second half.”
And UNLV shot just 27 percent after halftime.
“That’s not a good equation for winning a game on the road,” Rice said.
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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