Every now and then, opportunity coincides with performance in college athletics, creating memorable outcomes that can change the face of programs.
In 1994, for example, Colorado State played at fourth-ranked Arizona in football, and pulled off a stunning upset that set the stage for a decade of unprecedented success under former coach Sonny Lubick. The game wasn’t really even supposed to happen – both Arizona and CSU just happened to have schedule openings that season, and a deal to play was struck very late in the process – but Lubick’s up-and-coming team was perfectly poised for a breakout effort.
In 2003, the CSU men’s basketball team hadn’t done much during the regular season but seemed to be peaking heading into the Mountain West Conference Tournament. The Rams got a favorable draw as the No. 6 seed and rode the shoulders of emerging sophomore center Matt Nelson to a series of huge upsets to win the tournament and secure the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 13 years.
Saturday, the Rams were matched against No. 4 Kansas with an opportunity to secure the basketball program’s biggest win since 2003. The Rams are a veteran team, and Kansas – while incredibly talented – is young. And the game was being played in Kansas City – still a Jayhawks hotbed but not nearly as intimidating as KU’s historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Yes, opportunity had a chance to meet performance…but performance apparently missed the exit ramp off I-70. The Rams played well in stretches and were in good position early in the second half, but faltered after that en route to a 76-55 loss.
The loss was part of a disappointing week for CSU hoops. The men’s team suffered a disheartening overtime loss to Colorado, and the women’s team lost at CU and Arizona State. The swimming team crushed Northern Colorado, but that was pretty much the only bright spot for the Rams.
Men’s basketball – the Rams shot just 28.3 percent from the field vs. Kansas and were outrebounded 53-30 – a REALLY bad combination against anyone, let alone the No. 4 team in the nation. But it wasn’t until a 12-0 KU run early in the second half that the Rams (4-3) lost contact with the Jayhawks, and they never really threatened after that. Andy Ogide led the Rams with 12 points, while Travis Franklin and guard Dorian Greene, who grew up in Lawrence, Kan., cheering for the Jayhawks, added 10 each.
Next up – The Rams have a quiet week during final exams before hosting UNC at 7 p.m. Dec. 20.
Women’s basketball – The Rams, who never really got started against CU earlier in the week, put together a better effort at Arizona State but still fell 72-53 to the talented Sun Devils. The Rams (5-4) got 19 points from junior Kim Mestdagh and 17 from freshman Sam Martin but suffered 23 turnovers.
Next up – CSU get the week off for finals before hosting South Dakota at 2 p.m. Dec. 20. That game will mark the CSU debut of junior forward Kelly Hartig, a transfer from Virginia who should provide immediate help inside.
Swimming – The Rams crushed UNC 193-106 on Saturday at Moby Pool, winning 13 of the 14 events. Fran Mathias won both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events to lead the Rams (3-6), who earned their first win since Oct. 23.
Next up – CSU gets a long break before returning to action at 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at Moby to face Brigham Young.