Pack battle with Griffins, but can't close in 74-66 home loss

Pack battle with Griffins, but can't close in 74-66 home loss

PUEBLO, Colo. (February 10, 2018) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's basketball team is living the movie Groundhog Day, as they again battle with their opponent, but failed to make shots down the stretch to this time lose 74-66 to Westminster College in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest at Massari Arena Saturday.

The ThunderWolves (10-15, 7-12 RMAC) have now lost five straight with four of those setbacks coming with leads in the final minutes watched disappear due to missed shots and miscues on the offensive end. 

Here's how tonight's version of the story went.

Down five at 63-58 with 5:23 left, junior Gavin Liggett (G, Limon, Colo.) attempted to help the Pack break the bad streak, as he hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the home team ahead 64-63 with 3:56 remaining in regulation. The buckets forced a timeout by the Griffins and the ThunderWolves had their first lead since 4:30 remaining in the first half. 

Out of the timeout, the ThunderWolves grabbed a rebound on a missed shot and hustled down the floor, only to turn the ball over. A foul on the other end and two WC free throws and the lead was gone, 65-64, with 2:58 remaining. Another Pack turnover and a layup by the Griffins pushed the deficit to three, but senior Josh Smith (G, Colorado Springs, Colo.) drove and got a floater in the lane to drop to put CSU-Pueblo down 67-66 with 1:45 left. 

Unfortunately, that would be the final points the ThunderWolves would score, as the Griffins responded with the basket and the Pack committed yet another turnover without getting a shot attempt. CSU-Pueblo put Dayon Goodman, the league's leading scorer, at the line with 47 seconds left and he sank both to reach 43 points in the game. With the deficit at five, 71-66, senior Will Newman (G, Hawthorne, Calf.) attempted a 3-pointer that fell short and going down with it was a shot at a comeback. WC hit 3-of-4 from the line in the final 34 seconds to secure the eight-point victory. 

The Pack never trailed by more than six in the game before the final free throws and held a lead as large as eight during the first five minutes of the game. Speaking of the charity stripe, Westminster attempted 13 more free throws than the home team, as they went 19-for-23 (82.6%) from the line and the ThunderWolves finished 8-of-10 (80%). CSU-Pueblo shot 44.4 percent from the field and hit their league-leading average from beyond the arc with 10. WC shot 56.5 percent from the field and scored 28 points in the paint. 

Smith led the team with 19 points, which included five 3-pointers. He moved closer to reaching 1,000 career points and now sits at 978 points with three guaranteed games remaining. 

Newman moved into 10th on the school's all-time scoring list, as he dropped 14 points, and had pulled down eight rebounds, dished out five assists and added three steals, all game highs for both teams.

No other player was in double figures scoring for the ThunderWovles, but seven players added to the scoring column.

The Pack, with still a path to sneaking into the postseason and an opportunity to run the end credits on this repeated storyline, close the regular season road schedule Feb. 17 at Colorado Christian University. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.

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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.