"Our team knew what was going on," Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said about losses to UNLV and New Mexico.
The Rams responded.
Wes Eikmeier scored 18 points for Colorado State, and a defensive adjustment shut down Fresno State's Kevin Olekaibe in the second half of the Rams' 74-67 victory on Wednesday night.
"It was an at-all-cost win," Eustachy said. "This was the most important game of the year for us, a game we had to find a way to win."
Dorian Green added 16 points and Colton Iverson 12 points and 12 rebounds for Colorado State (22-6, 9-4 Mountain West). It was Iverson's 13th double-double of the season.
Olekaibe led Fresno State (9-18, 3-11) with 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Rams put Jon Octeus and Daniel Bejarano on Olekaibe to start the second half and held him to just an early 3-pointer.
"I had my shot going," Olekaibe said. "My teammates set me up, and I made the shots."
Marvelle Harris had 14 points for the Bulldogs. Foul trouble limited Tyler Johnson to four points.
The Rams had struggled defending the 3-pointer in two of their previous three games. They allowed 45 points by Air Force's Michael Lyons and 46 by New Mexico's Kendall Williams and needed to make an adjustment on Olekaibe.
"It seems like if you want to make 3s, play us,"
Olekaibe took only one shot in the second half.
Octeus provided momentum with a dunk off a steal, and Green capped the 9-4 mini-run with a layup off a baseline drive to make it a 51-42 game. Allen Huddleston hit a short jumper and had four free throws to get Fresno State within 51-48.
Harris' 3-pointer cut the margin to 53-51, but Fresno State missed its next six shots as a 10-0 Colorado State run was culminated by a dunk by Octeus with 5:48 left.
"Taking nothing away from Boise State a couple of nights ago, those guys (Colorado State) executed and made shots down the stretch," said Fresno State coach Rodney Terry. "Our guys did a great job defensively against a really good team."
Colorado State led 37-34 at the break, but Olekaibe kept the Bulldogs close with 15 points. Olekaibe made his first three shots, all 3-pointers, to pull Fresno State within 20-19 midway through the half.
Huddleston, who finished with 12 points, had a layup off a steal put the Bulldogs ahead 34-32. Bejarano's 3-pointer and a scoop shot by Eikmeier in the last minute gave the Rams a three-point edge at halftime.
The Rams tied the all-time series at 10-10 with Fresno State and are unbeaten in the five games played in Fort Collins.