PUEBLO, Colo. (December 17, 2016) – The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team used a 21-2 second half run to record its fifth consecutive victory and defeat visiting Western State Colorado University 103-80.
The ThunderWolves improved to 7-4 overall and 5-1 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play to sit in a two-way tie for second place in the conference standings heading into the holiday break. The Mountaineers fell to 2-8, 1-5 RMAC.
The Pack dished out 28 assists, which is the most by an RMAC team in league play this season. CSU-Pueblo hit on 15-of-26 from long range to shoot 57.7 percent. Coming off their worst shooting performance of the season, the home team hit on a season-high 59.7 percent from the field. The ThunderWolves won the rebounding battle 33-28 and totaled 10 blocks to WSCU's one. CSU-Pueblo forced 17 Western State turnovers and capitalized with 27 points.
The Pack bench was the catalyst to victory Saturday, as they recorded 45 points, guided by an 18-point effort from junior Mark Williams (Chino Hills, Calif.). He shot 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the field and added seven rebounds. Senior Braydon Kuiper (Wasilla, Alaska) totaled 12 points, which included a career-high four 3-pointers (4-of-5 from long range). Two of those daggers from downtown came during the big second half run. The senior also added three rebounds, three assists and steal.
Senior center Nelson Kahler (Noosa Heads, Australia) was the first half hero and guided the Pack to a 52-43 lead. He totaled 17 of his 19 points in the first frame. In 11 minutes he shot 6-of-8 (75%) from the field, hit on 5-of-6 (83.3%) from the free throw line and added six of his seven rebounds. The RMAC leader in blocks finished with four against the Mountaineer s and nine on the weekend after rejecting five shot attempts of Colorado Mesa University Friday night.
Junior Josh Smith (G, Colorado Springs, Colo.) hit three from downtown and totaled 15 points with four assists. Junior guard Will Newman (Hawthorne, Calif.) recorded a career-high 10 assists, which is the most by a Pack player since last season when Syrus McDonald posted 10 against Colorado Christian University. The effort is also the best in the RMAC this season.
Western State came out running in the second half and cut the nine-point halftime deficit to two at 59-57 with 15:33 on the game clock. The ThunderWolves then went on a rampage and recorded a 21-2 run over six minutes to break the contest open at 80-59. During the run, 18 of the 21 points came off the hands of bench players. The final bucket was a 3-pointer by Newman, who added six points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals to his evening. Williams recorded eight points during the run.
The advantage never went below 19 for the remainder of the 9:32 and the Pack posted their second best winning streak under head coach Ralph Turner. The ThunderWolves rattled off eight straight in 2014-15.
CSU-Pueblo has one last game in 2016, as the ThunderWolves host Black Hills State University Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The basketball doubleheader (women at 5:30 p.m.) serves as Fan Appreciation Night and all in attendance will get in free.
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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.