CSU downs Montana in Eustachy's debut

Nov. 9, 2012

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By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State men's basketball team (1-0) overcame a slow start, and a seven-point halftime deficit, on Friday night to open the Larry Eustachy era with an impressive 72-65 victory over the Montana Grizzlies (0-1) at Moby Arena.

The win marked the first for Eustachy at Colorado State, and ran the Rams' home win streak to 14 straight, tying the program record for consecutive wins at Moby Arena., and extending what was the nation's ninth-longest such streak entering the game.

"It was a great win under the circumstances with Montana," said Eustachy after the game. "They have a real system going and we have a new coach coming in here with new players trying to blend in with the old and I just thought that was a great opponent. "

The Grizzlies, 2012 Big Sky Champions and NCAA Tournament participants, jumped out to an early lead against the Rams, forcing three consecutive turnovers to open the game and holding CSU scoreless for the first 4:40. But senior center Colton Iverson, one of five Rams to finish in double-figures scoring, notched the first two of his game-high 18 points from the free-throw stripe to get the Rams on the board.

The Rams committed just six turnovers the remainder of the game, and outrebounded the Griz by a 44-21 margin - behind a game-high 16 boards from senior forward Pierce Hornung - to overcome a tough-shooting first-half and come away with the seven-point victory.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 10 points in the contest, coming late in the opening half, but the Rams scored eight straight to open the second stanza, taking a 35-34 lead with 17 minutes remaining. 

Neither team held a lead of more than two possessions throughout the bulk of the second half until the Rams pulled ahead by eight points on a pair of Greg Smith free-throws at the 5:46 mark. 

As a team, CSU connected on 31-of-41 attempts from the free-throw line, and the Rams were clutch down the stretch, hitting 11-of-13 from the stripe over the final 6:15 to stifle the UM comeback effort.

But it was the home crowd of 5,833, the largest for a CSU home opener since 2005 vs. CU (5,868) that seemed to energize the Rams when they needed it most.

"The crowd was terrific," said Eustachy. "I don't think that we win unless that crowd pulls us through. It was a great win through the adversity."

Arizona transfer Daniel Bejarano, who like Iverson was making his debut at Colorado State, also posted double-figures scoring for the Rams, notching 12 points to go along with six rebound and two assists, all career-bests for the sophomore guard.

Seniors Dorian Green (11), Greg Smith (11) and Wes Eikmeier (10) also finished in double-figures scoring for the Rams. Smith added five rebounds, while Green dished out a team-best three assists and Eikmeier drained the Rams' only three-pointer of the night. 

Montana was led by guards Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory, who tallied 17 points and 10 points, respectively, in the contest. 

Colorado State has now won 32 consecutive home openers, dating back to the 1980-81 season, while Eustachy improves to 20-2 all-time in season-opening games. 

The Rams return to the court Thursday night, hosting the Chadron State Eagles.  Tipoff for Game 2 is slated for 7 p.m. MT.  Tickets are available in person at the McGraw Athletic Center Ticket Office, online at CSURams.com, or by calling 800/491-RAMS.