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CSU Rams outlast 23rd-ranked Nevada, advance to Mountain West semifinals

Time to stop worrying about Colorado State’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

Time to start thinking about where the CSU Rams might land if they win the Mountain West Conference tournament.

The CSU men moved within two victories of doing just that with an 85-78 win over 23rd-ranked Nevada in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Next up is a semifinal date with the winner of Thursday night’s late game between No. 3 seed Boise State and No. 6 New Mexico. Tip-off is at 10 p.m. MDT Friday.

Senior guard Isaiah Stevens was brilliant, scoring 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting while dishing seven assists, and Jalen Lake was nearly flawless off the bench with 16 points while hitting all three of his 3-point attempts. The seventh-seeded Rams (24-9) buried seven 3s en route to topping a Nevada (26-7) club that beat them twice during the regular season, the last of which came on a half-court buzzer-beater in Fort Collins.

The second-seeded Wolf Pack didn’t have a shot at such late-game theatrics Thursday night. CSU raced out to a 10-point halftime lead, withstood a pair of second-half runs from Nevada and held on for their fourth straight win.

Along the way, the Rams turned the ball over just nine times while forcing 15 Nevada giveaways.

Jarod Lucas, the Nevada guard who hit that half-court heave in FoCo, led the Wolf Pack with 18 points but was largely contained for most of the night.

Nique Clifford added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for CSU, Joel Scott had 11 points and five rebounds, and Joe Palmer added 12 points as part of a 35-21 advantage in bench scoring for the Rams.

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