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October 23, 2014

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MWC tournament:

Clutch shooting down stretch lifts Rams, who’ll next face UNLV

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy talks with guard Wes Eikmeier during a break in their Mountain West Conference Tournament game against Fresno State Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. CSU won the game 67-61 and will face UNLV on Friday.

MWC Tournament: CSU vs. Fresno St.

Fresno State guard Tyler Johnson grabs a rebound from Colorado State forward Pierce Hornung during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. Launch slideshow »

Colorado State's Wes Eikmeier wasn't worried or concerned that he had missed his first six shots from the floor.

He did what all good shooters do — forgot about the misses and focused on the next shot.

Eikmeier went on to make four of his next seven shots, including a big 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining to help Colorado State to a 67-61 victory over Fresno State on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

"(Coach) challenged all of us to, you know, play harder," Eikmeier said. "Play more physical and prove that this whole team is something special."

The Rams (25-7) will play UNLV, who defeated Air Force 72-56 in an earlier quarterfinal, in the tournament semifinal 8:30 p.m. Friday, and Colorado State will likely be without senior point Dorian Green, who sat out Wednesday's game against the Bulldogs (11-19).

There was an initial hope that Green would be available for the game, but Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy isn't sure if he will suit up.

"We tried it once here, and couldn't do it," Eustachy said. "We're going to practice and prepare as if we don't have him, which I think is 99.9 percent chance we won't."

Colorado State and UNLV split their season series, with the home team winning each game.

The last time the two played was on Feb. 20 when the Rebels eked out a 61-59 victory inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

Unlike many detractors who claim UNLV has an unfair advantage by hosting the tournament, Eustachy is one of UNLV coach David Rice's sympathizers.

"I love the fact that the tournament's here," Eustachy said. "I know there's a lot of coaches who would like it somewhere else. … But the pressure is on Coach Rice. I mean, it's not a fun situation to be in as a coach."

To get a crack at UNLV, however, Colorado State had to fend off a motivated, scrappy Fresno State team.

The game featured 12 lead changes, but after Daniel Bejarano hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the Rams were able to keep Fresno State at bay for a little bit.

"He rose to the challenge," Eikmeier said of Bejarano's treys. "Daniel has been giving us a spark all year."

The Bulldogs kept clawing, before Eikmeier drilled his first and only 3-pointer with 65 seconds left, all but sealing the game.

"Wes really, really responded," Eustachy said. "He didn't let his shooting affect him."

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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