FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – A preseason 79-58 loss to Southern Mississippi in 2011 was the start of something special at Colorado State’s Moby Arena.
“After we lost to Southern Mississippi, our group took it upon ourselves,” said senior guard Wes Eikmeier. “We wanted to make sure that we protected this court and it became a team mindset.”
The “Moby Magic” and “Moby Madness” continued Saturday night as Colorado State beat UNLV 66-61.
Dorian Green hit six clutch free throws among his season-high 24 points as Colorado State extended its school-best home winning streak to 24.
Colorado State (15-3, 2-1 Mountain West) has the nation’s fourth-longest home streak and last lost at home on Nov. 19, 2011. The Rams are 11-0 at home this season.
“We have real good players, talented players and the fans,” said Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy, who was the coach on the Southern Mississippi bench in that last Rams loss. “If this place was empty the last 24 games, we wouldn’t have won.”
“There are times the fans carry the team through it,” Eustachy said. “The fans influence the referees and influence the opponent.”
And the Moby Arena crowd was roaring at the end of Saturday’s game.
Greg Smith scored 16 points for the Rams, and Colton Iverson had seven points and 10 rebounds.
The Rams had a 36-34 rebounding edge and have outrebounded every opponent. Colorado State led 31-26 at halftime. UNLV shot 41 percent from the field for the game, while Colorado State shot 38.9 percent.
Anthony Marshall led UNLV (15-4, 2-2) with 15 of his 21 points in the second half. Katin Reinhardt had 11 points. Prize freshman Anthony Bennett was limited to nine points for the Runnin’ Rebels, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.
“We were right there in the closing minutes and just could not get it done,” UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. “It was a very physical game, the first experience for some of our guys with how physical coach Eustacy’s teams are.”
Eustachy singled out the defensive effort that was done on Bennett who shot 4 of 8.
“When he got the ball, we were on him,” Eustachy said. “We put numerous players on him, and his eight shots, for the most part, were hard fought.”
UNLV shot only 28 percent in the first half but used a late spurt to trail by only 31-26 at the break.
In the second half, Reinhardt scored six straight points to push UNLV ahead 36-35 three minutes into the half.
Marshall hit a 3-pointer put UNLV up 59-56 with 3:58 left. But Colorado State took a 60-59 lead on two free throws each by Colton Iverson and Green.
Green hit two more free throws for a 62-59 lead a roaring crowd for the 2:17 remaining in the game. Bennett turned the ball over, and UNLV had only a layup by Marshall. The Rams finished with free throws by Green and Eikmeier.
“I think this shows the maturity of our team,” Green said. “We kept battling and stuck with it.”
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