There are no easy wins in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Center Jake Trahern led a more focused Colorado State University-Pueblo attack with 27 points and 13 rebounds as the ThunderWolves bounced back from a disappointing effort on Tuesday with a 78-76 victory over Western New Mexico University at Massari Arena.
“It seemed like everything I was throwing up was going in,” Trahern said.
In a tight affair throughout, CSU-Pueblo made enough plays down the stretch to sweep the season series against the Mustangs.
ThunderWolves guard Rome Smith atoned for a poor-shooting night by hitting two clutch shots, including a contested 17-foot-jumper from the right wing with 1:03 left in the game to give CSU-Pueblo a 78-74 lead.
“I felt like I let by team down for the first 30 minutes,” Smith said. “My teammates always tell me to keep shooting and they honestly have more confidence in me than myself.”
Western New Mexico forward DJ Nicholas had a chance to win the game for the Mustangs, but he missed a long 3-point attempt with two seconds left and Trahern grabbed the rebound to clinch the victory.
Both matchups between the schools this month have come down to the final shot.
On Feb., 7, ThunderWolves point guard Jordan Surratt buried a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give CSU-Pueblo a 58-56 win in Silver City, N.M.
CSU-Pueblo guard Roman Van Allen provided a huge spark off the bench in the second half. The junior from Los Angeles knocked down all five of his 3-point attempts in the half to pace the ThunderWolves with 15 points.
“Roman is a lot of fun to play with because you never know when he is going to go off,” Trahern said.
The ThunderWolves led most of the game. They took their first lead in the second minute of the game and did not trail until Nicholas made two free throws with 2:49 remaining in the second half to put the Mustangs on top 72-71.
It was Western Mew Mexico’s second and last lead of the night.
Thirteen seconds later Van Allen made his fifth 3-pointer of the half and then Smith took command with his last-minute heroics.
ThunderWolves guard Dwayne Wright added a career-high 11 points.
Coming off a bad outing against New Mexico Highlands on Tuesday, CSU-Pueblo came out aggressive in the first half defensively and outrebounded the Mustangs 22-12.
The ThunderWolves went in to the locker room with a 37-31 lead.
Trahern passed the 1,000 career point mark on a dunk with 2:21 remaining in the first half.
The win leaves CSU-Pueblo’s overall record at 12-13 and 9-8 in the RMAC.
Next weekend, the ThunderWolves will play their final two games of the regular season at home in Massari Arena against Western State on Friday and Mesa State on Saturday.