ThunderWolves welcome Mavericks and Mountaineers for RMAC weekend

PUEBLO, Colo. (December 15, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team (5-4, 3-1 RMAC) hosts a pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foes Dec. 16-17 when Colorado Mesa University (2-8, 1-3 RMAC) and Western State University Colorado (2-6, 1-3 RMAC). Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.


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Last Time Out: A balanced scoring attack by the Pack lifted the home team to an 87-69 victory against Westminster College Saturday for the team's third straight win.

All five starters scored in double-figures, guided by a monster all-around effort from senior Rico Spikes, 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 and sophomore Gavin Liggett. 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 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.

Sweet Shooting: The Pack are shooting 51.7 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 13th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and shot at a 48.4 percent clip versus Westminster.

Center Nelson Kahler's 64.3 percentage from the field is second in the league and 23rd in NCAA Division II. Newman owns a 60.0 percentage and is third in the RMAC and 43rd nationally, while Williams owns a 54.7 percent mark to sit sixth in the conference.

Bench Play: The Pack have scored more points off the bench than their opponent in seven of nine games this season.

Guards Leading the Way: The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 14.9 points per game (12th in the RMAC). He has come off the bench in eight of the nine games. He is shooting 54.7 percent from the field and adds 5.6 rebounds per game. The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.7 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. Will Newman's 36 assists is a team best, which is 4.0 assists per game to tie for fifth in the conference.

Block Party: Kahler finished first in the RMAC with 64 blocks last season, which ranked 22nd nationally. His 2.21 blocks per game was 21st. He owns 19 blocked shots this season to again lead the league and rank 31st nationally. The 2.11 swats per game is 35th in NCAA Division II.

As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC with 38 blocked shots.

Long Range: The ThunderWolves finished 10th nationally last season with 11.0 3-pointers per game and hit on a 37.7 percentage (4thin the RMAC). This season, the Pack have knocked down 8.9 3-pointers per contest, which is fourth in the RMAC and are shooting at a 40.0 percent clip, also fourth.

Liggett leads the team with 27 daggers from downtown to rank tied for fourth in the conference, while Smith has 26 buckets from beyond the arc to sit tied for fifth. Newman has shot 11-of-22 (50%) from long range this season to sit tied for sixth in the RMAC.

Liggett hit nine against Texas A&M Commerce Nov. 25 to fall one shy of the program record. The mark is the most in the RMAC this season and is tied for the second most in NCAA Division II in 2016-17.

Helping Hand: The Pack are fifth in the conference with 14.9 assists per game. Newman owns 4.0 helpers per contest to sit fifth in the RMAC.

Getting Buckets: The ThunderWolves are third in the league with 85.4 points per game. The team's +5.2 scoring margin is fourth.

Scouting Colorado Mesa: The Mavericks earned their first RMAC win of the season (had lost six straight games total) Saturday when it downed Adams State 91-82 after trailing by 12 at the half. Connor Nichols recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win has guided the team in rebounding this season with 5.6 per game. CJ Davis is CMU's leader in points with 13.6 per game. The Mavericks own a -6.2 rebounding margin this season to sit 14th in the RMAC. CMU is +1.2 in turnover margin to rank fifth in the league.

Last season, the Pack suffered a 93-66 setback in Grand Junction.

Scouting Western State: The Mountaineers have lost five of their last six games, but pushed league-leading Fort Lewis to overtime Saturday in a 107-103 loss. The lone conference win came against Colorado Mesa in a 76-75 home victory. Ben Beauchamp ranks sixth in the RMAC with 17.9 points per game. His 24 3-pointers is a team-best, while his 5.3 rebounds per contest ties with Patrick Sniff for the team lead. WSCU is averaging 80.9 points per game to rank fifth in the RMAC. The team's +3.1 rebounding margin is also fifth in the league.

In 2015-16, the ThunderWolves swept the season series 2-0. The Pack escaped with an 87-84 road win in the first conference game of the season before rolling to a 97-64 home victory in the RMAC finale.

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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