Not even a knee injury could stop junior Sam Martin from leading the CSU women’s basketball team to a 60-44 victory against UNLV Wednesday night in Moby.
It was the Rams’ first time winning back to back games since November.
“This was a big game for UNLV,” said CSU coach Ryun Williams. “We beat a team that has been playing good basketball and has some good talent.”
Martin scored 25 points, along with eight rebounds and three assists.The Rams started off the game with a bang, tallying 14 points before the Rebels scored their first.
“The start was key,” Williams said. “Sam got us off to a great start offensively.”
Martin’s 17 points accounted for more than 50 percent of the first half points, 9 of them from three-pointers.
Thanks to additional points from senior Meghan Heimstra and junior Alicia Nichols, the Rams were able to hold the score, leading 30-20 at the half.
“We are playing better basketball because Meghan is playing better,” said Williams. “She is doing some good things and it is becoming contagious to the rest of our group.”
CSU started slow in the second half, allowing the Rebels to outscore them 9-4.
Freshman Caitlin Duffy, the team’s second-leading scorer had a rough game, going 0-9 on the evening, but she sank both of her free throws in the second half.
“Duffy is a great shooter,” said Williams. “If she stops shooting, she is sitting.”
While Martin seemed to cool off for a bit, Heimstra and Nichols stepped up. Heimstra with her first double-double, 10 points and 13 rebounds and Nichols scoring a career-high 14 points.
“A career high for me, that’s exciting,” said Nichols. “LeDeyah [Forte] was throwing us passes everywhere. I feel like I was in the right place at the right time and she found me.”
With thirteen minutes left to play, Martin bruised her knee and exited the game.
Her teammates surged, scoring 9 points in three minutes.
“When a player of Sam’s caliber goes down, that’s a scary moment,” said Williams. “We had a wounded bear, and I think our kids played with a little more grit, we got some energy from that.”
The Rams took a 19-point lead in the second half, their largest of the night with three minutes left to play after 3-pointers from Nichols and Martin.
Forte had a great performance, making accurate passes and keeping the tempo of the game from getting out of control.
“LeDeyah had a great floor game,” said Williams. “Her vision was outstanding, she relaxed us and carried us to victory.”
The win for the Rams puts them at a tie for fifth place with New Mexico in the MW standings.
They have won 3 of their last 4, improving their record to 9-15. They will travel to Albuquerque to take on New Mexico on Saturday.
“I think playing offense like we did today gives us a little confidence,” said Martin. “We will have to go into practice tomorrow and roll with it.”