Instant Reaction: J.D. Paige plays his final game at Moby Arena
J.D. Paige’s collegiate career was anything but ordinary. The former Rangeview High School star faced adversity in just about every imaginable way, but through the chaos, Paige was able to forever cement himself in the Colorado State history books.
“This guy’s a legend right here,” freshman forward Adam Thistlewood said of Paige.
In four seasons with the program, Paige played in 123 total games, 87 of which were starts. As a redshirt sophomore in 2016-17, the one-time local preps star started all 36 games for a squad that despite only having seven active players for the majority of the season, was able to finish second in the league and make the Mountain West Tournament Championship Game.
While Paige’s junior and senior seasons would not live up to the hype of that special 2016-17 campaign, the veteran stood tall through a sea of distractions and chose to stay committed to CSU rather than pursuing a new school. On Saturday afternoon, in front of rowdy crowd, Paige played his final game at Moby Arena.
“Even as a fifth-year senior, he’s grown a ton,” Niko Medved said. “He’s playing the best basketball of his career in so many ways.”
Unfortunately for Paige, the Rams finished the game in the losing column as UNLV was able to narrowly escape with a 65-60 victory. In the home loss, Paige recorded 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
“It’s tough—we’ve got to find a way to close out games,” Paige said.
The game was emblematic of Paige’s career at CSU—the highs were high and the lows were low. The Rebels led for 39:06 on Saturday, and at one point took an 18-point lead in the second half.
Down the stretch, CSU was able to come all the way back and take the lead with 2:20 remaining. When the game was on the line though, the Rebels were able to outscore the Rams by a margin of 9:4 in the closing minutes.
“Tough loss to end the regular season,” Medved said. “I thought we just really dug ourselves a hole, in particular, the first 10 minutes of the game—that was really hard to dig out of.”
The loss to the Rebels means that CSU will be the No. 9 seed in the 2019 MW Tournament. The Rams will face Boise State on Wednesday morning at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.