Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado State Rams hope to pull off an early season upset as they visit the McCarthey Athletic Center for a non- conference matchup with the 15th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The Rams coasted to a 99-70 decision over Division II foe University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Friday in their season opener behind a balanced attack that saw six different players score in double figures. Coach Larry Eustachy did a tremendous job in his first year with the program in 2012-13, leading the team to a 26-9 overall record and an appearance in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Eustachy will have to find new leaders on the floor after losing all five of his starters from that squad. CSU played very well on both ends in its first appearance of the 2013-14 campaign, hitting on 60 percent of its shots from the field, while limiting UCCS to makes on 38.5 percent of its attempts from the floor.
Coach Mark Few's Bulldogs are coming off a 32-3 season that ended with a surprising third-round loss to Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga was able to earn a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance due to its dominance over the course of the regular season and West Coast Conference Tournament. Although the Bulldogs lost their top two frontcourt players in Kelly Olynk and Elias Harris, Sam Dower, Jr. showed he is ready to carry the torch with 21 points and 17 rebounds in the Zags' season-opening 100-76 rout of Bryant on Saturday.
Monday's matchup between CSU and Gonzaga marks the first time that the two programs have played since Dec. 7, 1996 when the Rams defeated the Bulldogs 72-61 at Moby Arena. This will be the fifth meeting in history between the two schools and both sides have collected two wins apiece to create a tie in the all-time series.
Daniel Bejarano posted his third career double-double for the Rams versus UCCS with 17 points and 16 rebounds to go along with five assists. Navy transfer J.J. Avila made a splash in his program debut with 15 points, four rebounds and six assists. True freshman David Cohn gave CSU a glimpse of its bright future in the backcourt with 15 points and four rebounds in his first official collegiate outing. Gerson Santo, Jon Octeus and Marcus Holt all scored in double figures as well. Holt was a spark off the bench with 14 points on 5- of-6 shooting from the field.
Dower was not the only player to thrive in the Bulldogs' victory over Bryant. Gerard Coleman had 15 points, while Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. each tallied 14 points. Pangos struggled from the perimeter, hitting on just 1-of-7 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the contest. He is likely to bounce back as he has proven himself as one of the top outside shooters in college basketball and averaged 2.2 makes from beyond the arc as a sophomore. Dower's explosion was highly unexpected as he finished the 2012-13 campaign with averages of 6.9 points and 2.7 boards per game.