Nico Carvacho sets program record for rebounds in loss to SDSU

It’s been a rough stretch of games for Colorado State men’s basketball. After being embarrassed by the University of Wyoming on Saturday, the Rams were handed a third consecutive loss Tuesday night. Led by sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels, the Aztecs left Moby Arena with a 71-60 victory in front of a national audience on ESPN2.

“I thought that it was a hard fought game most of the way,” head coach Niko Medved said. “I thought our defense was pretty good in the first half. We did a nice a job of sticking to the game plan. We really struggled offensively tonight.”

McDaniels, who scored his season-high in Moby Arena last season, once again came out with a hot hand on Tuesday. The 6-foot-10 forward made 7-of-13 attempts from the field and finished the evening with 18 points, 12 rebounds. Along with McDaniels, senior guard Devin Watson hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor to pace the Aztecs with 21 points.

“McDaniels is a pro,” Medved said. “I thought our guys battled him pretty hard to be honest. I thought there were a couple times where he made some tough shots but he’s a good player, man.”

In total, SDSU shot 52 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point range. While the Aztecs did not do anything special on offense, SDSU was able own the paint for the majority of the game and finished with an eight-rebound advantage.

Despite the losing effort, Nico Carvacho surpassed Pat Durham (851) as the program’s all-time leader rebounder. Carvacho, a redshirt junior forward, has led the country in individual rebounding for the majority of the season and finished Tuesday night’s game with a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds).

“It means a lot to me, especially having done it in such a short time, compared to the other guys,” Carvacho said. “I wish I could have some more Ws with it, but with all the work that I put in—all the effort plays that you don’t look at on the stat sheet—I’m really proud of myself.”

“It’s amazing,” Medved added. “I know he would have prefered to do it with a win and everything, but just phenomenal to do it in three years.”

Aside from Carvacho, J.D. Paige (16 points) and Adam Thistlewood (11 points) each finished the night with double-digit figures as well. In general, it was a fairly poor offensive showing from CSU though.

“I thought the biggest thing was we shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Medved said.

Medved explained how on multiple occasions CSU had opportunities to take advantage of transition situations and the Rams ended up turning the basketball over instead. On other instances, CSU would set up in the half court offense and force up a bad attempt from beyond the arch. As a whole, Medved was not pleased with his team’s offensive performance.

“I thought some guys turned down rhythm shots and then maybe pump faked and shot a tougher one. You can’t do that—you’ve gotta be aggressive,” Medved said. “When you shoot, you gotta step in and shoot with confidence.”

The Rams will look to get back on track at San Jose State next Wednesday. After a difficult three-game stretch, the eight-day break may do the Rams some good.

“We need to just go out there and practice, run with pace and kind of just get mentally refreshed,” Carvacho said. “We gotta get in the training room, get our bodies right and get some work in.”