FORT COLLINS | Just like that, it's over.
Following a heroic and memorable second-half run this season, Colorado State faltered at home in their second round NIT matchup with Cal State Bakersfield. In the final game for seniors Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo, the Rams dropped a disappointing game to CSU-Bakersfield, 81-63.
The loss ends CSU season after a once promising NIT outlook.
Things went from bad to worse for the Rams Tuesday night. Bakersfield jumped out to a 13-2 lead five minutes into the game. The Rams clawed their way back to eventually make it a 20-19 game, but a 14-2 run to close the half gave Bakersfield a 52-32 lead at the break. Omogbo, a first team all-Mountain West selection this year, was held scoreless in the first half and scored his lone bucket - a three-pointer - in the second half when the game was out of the reach.
It was a rough night for CSU's front court leader. Three turnovers plagued the athletic big man, who was limited to just 25 minutes having been pulled after poor spurts on both ends of the court and early foul trouble. Omogbo looked out of sorts all game, leaving the bulk of the scoring to be made up by Clavell and Prentiss Nixon.
Nixon was CSU's first half leader, notching 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Clavell recorded a relatively quiet 10 points, but ultimately ended with a game-high 21 points. He coughed up four turnovers, while adding 8 rebounds. Clavell and Omogbo left the game with 1:54 left in the game, with tears in their eyes as they hugged head coach Larry Eustachy in-game for the final time.
Four Road Runners finished in double-figures. CSU-Bakersfield shot 10-of-13 from three-point range in the first half, having averaged just 33.8 percent from beyond the arc entering the game. Stifling defense from CSUB, which was to expected, also limited the Rams to 3-of-13 shooting from behind the three-point line in the opening half.
CSU showed glimpses of hope in the second half, hitting occasional three-pointers to get the home crowd enthused. But a 9-0 run from CSUB ending at the 6:04 mark put the game out of reach for good.
The Rams turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 20 CSUB points. CSU was outscored in the paint, 26-14. Bakersfield's offensive dominance outside and inside shocked CSU at the start. The Road Runners never trailed all game.
The disappointing loss ends the brief, yet storied CSU careers of Clavell and Omogbo. The three points tied a season-low for Omogbo, who tallied three points in CSU's win over Northern Colorado.
CSU finishes the season 24-12 overall, the 24 wins being third most in program history. The Rams finished second in both the Mountain West regular season and conference tournament, with Clavell winning league Player of the Year.