PUEBLO, Colo. (December 29, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team brought a five-game win streak into the holiday break and will now defend the run in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference home contest against Black Hills State University Dec. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is FREE for Fan Appreciation Night.
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.
(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.
Sweet Shooting: The Pack are shooting 51.7 percent from the field this season, which is second in the RMAC and sits 12th nationally. CSU-Pueblo shot above 50 percent in each of the first eight games and nine of the 11 contests.
Mark Williams owns a 58.4 percent mark to sit second in the conference and 54th nationally.
Bench Play: The Pack have scored more points off the bench than their opponent in eight of 11 games this season.
Guards Leading the Way: The Pack's leading scorer is Mark Williams with 15.4 points per game (11th in the RMAC). He has come off the bench in 10 of the 11 games. He is shooting 58.4 percent from the field and adds 5.9 rebounds per game. The leading rebounder is guard Rico Spikes, who has 6.5 rebounds per contest to sit ninth in the RMAC. Will Newman's 49 assists is a team best, which is 4.5 assists per game to rank fourth 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 28 blocked shots this season to again lead the league and rank eighth nationally. The 2.55 swats per game is 12th in NCAA Division II.
As a team, the ThunderWolves lead the RMAC and sits 21st nationally with 4.8 blocked shots per game (53 blocks).
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 9.4 3-pointers per contest, which is fourth in the RMAC and are shooting at a 41.4 percent clip, also fourth (28th nationally).
Liggett leads the team with 32 daggers from downtown to rank fifth in the conference, while Smith has 30 buckets from beyond the arc to sit seventh. Liggett has shot 32-of-65 (49.2%) from long range this season to sit third in the RMAC and 33rd nationally.
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 third in the conference with 16.1 assists per game.
Getting Buckets: The ThunderWolves are second in the league and 33rd in the country with 87.0 points per game. The team's +7.3 scoring margin is third.
Scouting Black Hills State: The Yellow Jackets are 5-7 overall and 2-4 in league play. They are led by Zach McLemore's 12.6 points per game. Fraser Malcolm owns 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. BHSU defeated then-No.
In the lone meeting with BHSU last season, the Pack suffered an 82-62 home loss.
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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