PUEBLO, Colo. (January 6, 2018) - Back-to-back second half comebacks weren't in the cards for the Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team, as the ThunderWolves dropped a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference home game to Black Hills State University, 72-67 at Massari Arena Saturday.
The Pack (6-9, 3-6 RMAC) never led in the game and trailed by five to the Yellow Jackets (9-5, 5-4 RMAC) at the break. The two teams played the second half even, as the home team suffered the five point setback.
The two teams shot about the same from the field with BHSU gaining a slight advantage, 44.8 to 42.4 percent and both teams hit eight 3-pointers. After getting doubled-up in the rebounding department in the last meeting the ThunderWolves closed the gap Saturday, but still suffered a 42-31 loss in the category. The road team totaled 14 offensive rebounds.
Senior center Mika Nuolivirta (Vantaa, Uusimaa, Finland) led the team in scoring with 15 points in 20 minutes off the bench. He totaled three rebounds with two assists and a block. Senior guard Will Newman (Hawthorne, Calif.) posted 13 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior guard Gavin Liggett (Limon, Colo.) rounded out the top scorers with 12 points behind four 3-pointers. Senior Josh Smith (G, Colorado Springs, Colo.) gathered a team-high nine rebounds and added a team-best four steals.
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to an early 10 point lead at 14-4 five minutes into the contest. Their advantage would reach 12 at 21-9 with 12 minutes showing on the game clock, but the Pack battled back and a 14-2 run helped tie the game 23-23 with 6:39 left in the first half. During the run five different players scored, guided by five from Jason Anderson (R-So., C, Colorado Springs, Colo.), which included finishing the run with a 3-point play.
BHSU would score the next five points, which would match their lead heading into the locker room. The Yellow Jackets knocked down five of their eight 3-pointers in the opening frame, while CSU-Pueblo hit just one. The Pack did have the advantage in the paint 20-10.
A slow start to the second half by the ThunderWolves allowed the Yellow Jackets to build their largest lead of the game to 15 at 58-43 with 7:43 remaining. The Pack didn't quit and despite trailing by 12 with 2:28 left, CSU-Pueblo scored eight unanswered (two Nuolivirta 3-pointers) to cut the deficit to four at 66-62 with 1:46 remaining. The deficit was three with 48 ticks left, but BHSU did their job at the line and hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to secure the 72-67 victory.
CSU-Pueblo hits the road for a pair of RMAC contests Jan. 12-13 when they travel to Metro State Unviersity of Denver and University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
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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.