On the road, competing in one of the toughest arenas in the nation, CSU shut down The Pit for the first time in 16 years.
In front of a 6,500-plus crowd, the CSU women’s basketball team defeated Mountain West rival New Mexico in a late second-half battle to the net. The Rams improved their record to (14-4, 6-1 MW) with a 62-57 victory.
“I mean, it is just another good road win for us,” said head coach Ryun Williams. “To win an environment like that, and to play with the poise and composure that we did late, I am proud of our kids for that.”
A major contributor against the Lobos were the offensive point totals of AJ Newton (24), Gritt Ryder (15) and Sam Martin (9). Six Rams hit net, which led to a 44 percent on the shot, 22-50.
“I think I was pretty pivotal,” Newton said. “They were taking out some of our posts pretty early so that left a lot of shots open for me to hit.”
The Rams 3-point lead heading into the second half drew thin when New Mexico increased its accuracy inside the paint. A leader at the line for the Lobos was Deeva Vaughn, shooting 7-8 and Khadijah Shumpert off the glass shooting 6-10.
The game came down to a battle of forcing turnovers, getting the rebound off the glass and taking advantage of the shots at the line. The final 10 minutes of the game was the deciding factor.
“Second half I think they got us on the glass a little bit, and we kind of regained some composure on the glass and then offensively make enough plays down the stretch,” Williams said. “The last three or four minutes we guarded extremely well.”
Because of the improvement on the guard in the final minutes, CSU was able to put itself on top with 1:19 remaining in the second, 57-55. The deciding factor between CSU and New Mexico was accuracy, the Rams shot 22-50 compared to the Lobos 20-64. New Mexico went 3-19 on three-point shots which could have made the different to a 5-point deficit.
Late strength, endurance and preservation has been a deciding factor this season. The success of this team does not come as a surprise to the plays and coaches, it all comes down to the confidence level built amongst the team and its ability to click.
“I think it is surprising in the fact that it is working,” Newton said. “I think it doesn’t surprise us that we are winning cause it is what we wanted and what we planned out for the year. When we were being recruited we all knew what was expected of us.”
CSU will turn its attention back to Moby Area for a two-game series against Nevada on Wednesday and San Diego State on Saturday. The Rams have a momentum boost in their favor moving forward on a three-game winning streak and first-place rank in the conference.
“They are both hot teams right now and we will start with Nevada,” Williams said. “They have beaten Fresno, who was picked to win in the league, they just had a big win over Wyoming so were just going to turn our attention to them and know we have to play a good game to win. We are just going to do what we do.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.