Pack down Griffins 87-69 for third straight win

PUEBLO, Colo. (December 10, 2016) – A balanced scoring attack by the Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team lifted the home team to an 87-69 victory against Westminster College in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest at Massari Arena. The win marked three straight for the ThunderWolves.

All five starters scored in double-figures, guided by a monster all-around effort from senior Rico Spikes (Merriville, Ind.), as he posted 18 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block with just one turnover in 34 minutes of play. He was 6-for-9 (66.7%) from the field and knocked down 6-of-7 (85.7%) from the free throw line. Six of his career-high 14 rebounds came on the offensive glass.

The ThunderWolves shot 48.4 percent from the field, which is actually below their season average of 52.1 (entered the weekend 10th in NCAA Division II) and marked the first time this season the team failed to shoot above 50 percent. The Pack held Westminster (3-3, 3-1 RMAC) to 43.3 percent from the field.

CSU-Pueblo knocked down 12 3-pointers, five each from junior Josh Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and sophomore Gavin Liggett (Limon, Colo.). Smith finished with 17 points, while Liggett gathered 15. As a team, the Pack hit on 48 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Senior Nelson Kahler (Noosa Heads, Australia) recorded 11 points, while the RMAC leader in blocks totaled five to guide the Pack to nine total. Last season, Kahler recorded three games with five or more swats.

The ThunderWolves won the rebounding category 38-32, with 10 of those coming on the offensive glass to allow the Pack a 20-8 advantage in second chance points.

The first half saw 11 lead changes and the ball game tied five times, as the two teams traded blows for the first 20 minutes. The Pack came out ahead in the end by a slim 40-38 margin.

The ThunderWolves opened the first 7:26 minutes of the second half on a 25-8 run to break open the contest and hand the Pack what would be their largest lead of the game at 19 and the scoreboard reading 65-46. During the run, five different players scored with Liggett, Kahler and Spikes all totaling six points. CSU-Pueblo shot 56.3 from the field in that opening portion of the half.

The Griffins responded with a 9-0 run to cut the ThunderWolves lead to 10 at 65-55 at the midway point of the half. The double-digit advantage would hold to the end, as the Pack posted a 5-0 run and lead 70-55 with 7:50 remaining. WC would get within 10 at 73-63 and five minutes left, but again the Pack responded and never let the lead dip below a four-possession game.

The Pack will defend their three-game win streak against Colorado Mesa University Dec. 16 at Massari Arena before entertaining Western State Colorado University Dec. 17. Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. CSU-Pueblo Athletics will be holding a toy drive benefiting area foster children. Fans can get in free to the game with a new, unwrapped donation.

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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.