FORT COLLINS — Bring on the Wolf Pack.
If Colorado State is going to win its first regular-season conference title in 27 years, the Rams might has well win it outright. The only way to do that was to beat rival Wyoming on Tuesday night, which the Rams did, 78-76, on a 3-pointer by Prentiss Nixon with 5 seconds left to hold off a furious comeback by the Cowboys.
The dramatic victory, the second straight the Rams have won on a last-second 3, sets up a huge matchup in their regular season finale Saturday at Nevada. If the Wolf Pack win at San Jose State on Wednesday, the winner of Saturday's game in Reno would be crowned the outright Mountain West regular-season champions.
Colorado State hasn't won a conference title since winning the second of two straight WAC championships in 1998-90. The program's only MW title of any kind came when they won the conference tournament in 2003.
Nixon finished with a team-high 23 points, preventing a second-half collapse by CSU in which the Rams led by 11 with just less than 10 minutes to go.
The Rams came out hot in front of its largest home crowd of the season, a near-sellout of 7,883, taking a 14-2 lead four minutes in. The fast beginning was part of stretch in which they made 8 of 9 shots to build a 16-point lead midway through the first half.
Wyoming responded with a 17-4 run to make it a one-possession game on a 3-pointer by Hayden Dalton at the 6:51 mark before a triple by Prentiss Nixon in the final seconds of the first half gave the Rams a 48-41 lead at the break.
Nixon scored 18 of his points in the first half on his way to the second-highest scoring game of his career. Nico Carvacho added 10 points and 10 rebounds to help provide a proper sendoff for seniors Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo. The Rams' leading duo also enjoyed a nice showing in what could be their final home game, with Clavell going for 17 points before fouling out late and Omogbo totaling 13 points and 12 boards.
It was Omogbo's 13th double-double in conference play, breaking the league's single-season record. His 18 double-doubles in 2016-17 are tied with Jason Smith for most in one season in team history.
The Rams won for their eighth straight time on senior night, matched a team record with their 13th win in conference play and clinched their first series sweep since 2013.
Justin James, who missed a pair of free throws with the Cowboys down one with 26 seconds to go, finished with a game-high 24 points, including 18 in the second half rally. Chaparral High School product Hayden Dalton scored 17 points, as did former Widefield standout Alan Herndon for Wyoming (17-13, 7-10).
Colorado State 78, Wyoming 76
Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Herndon 7-10 1-3 17, Adams 2-6 1-1 5, McManamen 2-8 0-0 6, Lieberman 2-3 0-0 4, Dalton 6-11 0-0 17, Moemeka 0-0 0-0 0, Aka Gorski 1-2 0-0 3, James 8-14 6-10 24. Totals 28-54 8-14 76.
COLORADO ST. (21-9)
Omogbo 5-7 2-4 13, Carvacho 3-3 4-6 10, Nixon 10-16 0-1 23, Clavell 6-17 2-3 17, Paige 4-10 1-2 9, Koelliker 2-3 0-0 4, Bonner 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 30-58 11-18 78.
Halftime — Colorado St. 48-41. 3-point goals — Wyoming 12-30 (Dalton 5-9, Herndon 2-4, James 2-5, McManamen 2-7, Aka Gorski 1-2, Lieberman 0-1, Adams 0-2), Colorado St. 7-21 (Nixon 3-7, Clavell 3-8, Omogbo 1-3, Bonner 0-1, Paige 0-2). Fouled out — Clavell. Rebounds — Wyoming 26 (Dalton 10), Colorado St. 30 (Omogbo 12). Assists — Wyoming 19 (James 5), Colorado St. 6 (Omogbo 3). Total fouls_Wyoming 19, Colorado St. 16. A_7,883 (8,745).
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