FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) Joshua Jefferson scored 16 points including a key 3-pointer down the stretch and Saint Mary's sent No. 13 Colorado State to its first loss of the season 64-61 on Saturday night. Augustas Marciulionis led the Gaels (5-5) with 18 points before fouling out, and Aidan Mahaney added 10 points. Isaiah Stevens had 20 points to lead Colorado State (9-1). Patrick Cartier had 16 points and Nique Clifford added 15 points and 11 rebounds. “It was a huge step for us,” St. Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. “We've had a tough schedule. We weren't put together at the start of the year for a couple of reasons. But we've been building it, building it. I thought we were getting better. We have to get tougher. We have to get better so we can turn this thing around. But this was the best team we've played and it's the best we've played so this was a good step in the right direction.” Defense was central to the Gaels' upset of the Rams, who were held to a season low in points. “If we're good on that side of the ball, we always have a chance to win,” Jefferson said. “It was being as tough as we can, as tight as we can and then just playing hard every single time." Colorado State coach Niko Medved credited his players for putting up a fight to end. “We had our chances late, but they made a couple more plays than we did,” he said. “That stings. I guess we're not going to be Indiana, the '76 Hoosiers, right? We’re not going undefeated. We'll grow from this and learn.” Up 33-32 at the break, St. Mary's moved out to a 51-42 lead on a 3-pointer by Mahaney and a driving layup by Mitchell Saxen on successive possessions midway through the second half. They went ahead by nine points on Jefferson's layup with 6:48 left to play. Colorado State fought back with a 9-0 run, tying it at 55 with 4:09 remaining on a pair of free throws by Stevens. The Rams went in front 57-56 on Cartier's two free throws with 2:10 left. Jefferson answered with a hook shot seconds later and the Gaels expanded the lead to 61-57 with less than a minute left when he connected on a 3-pointer. “I was ecstatic,” Jefferson said of the late long-distance shot. “It was like, 'Let's get the win now.' That was my main focus. Just get the win, so I'm happy with it.” Colorado State had a chance to tie in the last 10 seconds but Stevens and Clifford both missed 3-point attempts. St. Mary's took a halftime lead on Saxen's jumper in the lane a second ahead of the buzzer. The Gaels had led by as many as 10 points but the Rams overcame early offensive problems to put together a 16-5 burst. Clifford capped the run with a pair of free throws to put the Rams in front by a point with 25 seconds left in the half.


St. Mary's lived up to its stout defensive reputation, suffocating Colorado State's offense and forcing repeated scoring droughts to deny the Rams' comeback bids.

The Rams never could find a shooting rhythm, converting just 37% of their shots.

POLL IMPLICATIONS Colorado State, which at No. 13 achieved its highest ranking ever in the AP poll, went 1-1 this week and figures to slip after its first loss of the season.

UP NEXT St. Mary's: Visits Phoenix to play UNLV on Dec. 16 in the Jerry Colangelo Classic. Colorado State: Hosts Colorado State-Pueblo on Dec. 17.


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