PUEBLO, Colo. (March 2, 2015) – The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (20-8, 16-6 RMAC) earned the fourth seed in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout and the right to host the first round Tuesday, March 3. The ThunderWolves welcome the No. 5 seed, Fort Lewis College (20-8, 15-7 RMAC) for a 7:30 p.m. tilt at Massari Arena.
RMAC Shootout Men's Basketball Bracket
The ThunderWolves are 6-11 overall in RMAC Shootout games, dating back to 1997. The Pack have made the tournament three straight seasons after missing out for two seasons. CSU-Pueblo has only hosted a RMAC Shootout game once. As the No. 4 seed March 5, 2013, the Pack hosted No. 5 seed Colorado Mesa and lost 74-65. Tuesday's meeting will be the second straight for the Pack against the Skyhawks. Last season the ThunderWolves traveled to Durango as the No. 5 seed and lost 79-68. The two squads also met in the quarterfinals of the 2003 tournament, where FLC (#2 seed) got the best of then-Southern Colorado (#7 seed), 83-65. The Pack last recorded an RMAC Shootout victory March 2, 2010, a 73-65 win at Colorado Mesa.
The ThunderWolves ranked No. 8 in the second edition of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball South Central Region rankings, released Feb. 25. The top eight teams from each region advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The ThunderWolves had their eight-game win streak come to an end at the hands of No. 14 MSU Denver Friday. The Pack traveled to Denver and suffered an 83-60 loss, shooting just 37.7 percent to the Roadrunners' 51.7 percent. CSU-Pueblo had eight 3-pointers, which is two below its average and were outrebounded by 25.
The Pack bounced back Saturday to beat Regis 85-75 and secure a home playoff game. The ThunderWolves shot the ball at a 47.5 percent clip, knocked down 11 3-pointers and won the rebounding category by 13. The Pack only turned the ball over six times (second lowest this season) and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds to earn 14 more shot attempts.
The three seniors took over the game Saturday to ensure that fourth seed in the tournament, as Jed Knafelc totaled a team-high 18 points with three 3-pointers and a 7-for-8 performance from the charity stripe. Devonte Malcolm came off the bench and knocked down five 3-pointers to total 15 points and Tyrone Marshall added nine points and four rebounds.
Juniors Bronson Moton scored 17 points and guard Rico Spikes pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, which is also the second most by the Pack player this season.
Fort Lewis capped the season with a 20-8 overall and 15-7 conference record. Since losing to CSU-Pueblo Feb. 13, the Skyhawks are 3-3. Fort Lewis averaged 79.3 points per game in conference play to rank third, while allowing 75.8 (tied for seventh in RMAC). FLC is guided by Alex Herrera, who owns 23.9 points (third in RMAC) and 11.8 rebounds (first in RMAC) per game. He also adds 92 blocks, which is first in the league.
Thunderwolves vs Skyhawks
CSU-Pueblo and Fort Lewis College (20-8, 15-7 RMAC) battled twice in 2014-15, with both teams winning on the road. The ThunderWolves lost to the Skyhawks 76-70 at home Dec. 6, but posted an 83-59 victory in Durango, Colorado Feb. 20. FLC is one of just two losses the Pack have suffered at home this season (12-2). In the road win, the ThunderWolves shot 12-of-22 (54.5%) from 3-point land. Freshman Will Newman totaled a season-high 18 points off the bench to guide the Pack, while junior Bronson Moton pulled down 10 rebounds.
• The Pack rattled off an eight-game win streak from Jan. 23-Feb. 21, which was the longest since the 1997-98 team rattled off 14 consecutive victories from Jan. 17 to the RMAC Championship Game, where it lost to Nebraska Kearney. The 1997-98 team was the last team to make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
• Since Jan. 9, the ThunderWolves are 12-3.
• In conference games only, CSU-Pueblo finished second in steals (7.7 spg), third in turnover margin (+2.55) and blocks (3.8 bpg) and fifth in assists (14.6 apg).
• With an assist/turnover ratio at 1.3 (RMAC games only), the ThunderWolves were tied for third, while their +2.64 turnover margin was third.
• CSU-Pueblo has knocked down 10 or more 3-pointers in 16 games this season.
• The ThunderWolves have attempted 794 3-pointers (6th nationally), made 285 (13th in total 3-pointers made) and average 10.2 3-pointers per game (9th in the nation). CSU-Pueblo leads the RMAC in all three categories. The Pack can also defend the arc and rank second in the league in 3-point field goal defense (opponents shooting 34.2 percent).
• With 111 total blocks the Pack rank 49th nationally (3rd in RMAC). Marshall's 45 blocks ranks fourth in the RMAC and 52nd in the nation.
• CSU-Pueblo's balanced scoring attack is guided by Marshall's 12.8 points per game. Bronson Moton's 7.4 rebounds per game is fourth in the RMAC.
• Senior Jed Knafelc (10.7 ppg) has totaled 175 3-point field goal attempts to rank third in the league. Knafelc's 88.2 free throw percentage ranks third in the RMAC.
• Senior Devonte Malcolm has hit on 44.2 percent of his 3-point attempts this season (61-of-138) to lead the team and rank seventh in the RMAC. His 61 3-pointers sits seventh in the league, tied with Knafelc.
• The ThunderWolves finished the regular season with a 20-8 record, posting the most wins since the 1997-98 team went 22-8. CSU-Pueblo capped the RMAC season with a 16-6 mark, good for the most conference wins in a season (records date back to 1963). CSU-Pueblo now has six seasons with 20 or more wins (since 1963).
• CSU-Pueblo was 5-0 on Fridays before back-to-back losses in January. The squad now owns an 9-3 mark in those games.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.