On Jan. 11, the CSU Rams had their seven game winning streak snapped by the No. 3 conference ranked Fresno State Bulldogs, falling 60-50 on the road.
As their rematch on Saturday approaches, the memories of defeat become fresher in the minds of the players and the plot for revenge strengthens.
“This time around we want to show that that was a one time thing and that we’re a tougher team than they are,” guard Gritt Ryder said.
When CSU played Fresno the first time, the Rams’ normal style of playing faltered. Instead of dominating on both offense and defense as they usually do, the Bulldogs were able to quiet the Rams and force the game to go their way.
“Looking back at that game compared to our other games, we just didn’t play like us,” forward Sam Martin said. “We played timid. We didn’t make the toughness plays, we didn’t get the 50-50 balls and we weren’t doing everything that we do as a team normally. It just didn’t feel right.”
The proof of the defeat the Rams suffered in January can be summed up in the stats sheet. A normal night after the Rams take on an opponent both at home and on the road shows a fairly even distribution of points, rebounds and assists.
However, with their first match at Fresno, only two players stood out on the stats chart.
Guard Ellen Nystrom and senior Sam Martin were the only two players in double digits. Even though they made a valiant effort to continue their winning streak, the Bulldogs defense wouldn’t allow it.
“We didn’t shoot well last time at Fresno and I thought they disrupted us with their pressure and those were the two big things,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “We guarded them really well, but we didn’t get the win on the road.”
Even though Fresno State’s team is filled with talented players that now how to disrupt CSU’s style of playing, one particular player stands out.
“Thompson, their point guard, is somebody we have to do a better job on,” Williams said. “She’s probably the number one key for us and we’ve got to try to contain her. She’s as competitive and as tough a guard there is in the league and she makes them go. So we have to choke their motor a little bit.”
With 19 points, four assists, two steals and 40 minutes of playing time, Fresno State’s Taylor Thompson looks to be the deadliest weapon on the team. However, Fresno’s line-up is about as full of talent as CSU’s is.
“They’re similar to us in that they have a lot of weapons,” Martin said. “They’ve got girls that will go off at different times. That’s what is really big about them and we just have to play really good defense and collectively play well against all of their players.”
With this particular match-up, more stands to be at stake than the normal weekend game.
If the Rams lose, they miss the opportunity to prove themselves to Fresno passes them by and they have potential to diminish their confidence that they would have going against them in the upcoming conference tournament.
However, regardless of what is on the line, this team is sticking to the motto that every game is the most important game
“We all want to show that what happened at Fresno isn’t who we are or how we play,” Ryder said. “But I think we’ll but just as motivated for this one as we are any other game.”
Collegian Reporter Hannah Cornish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @hmcornish.
Breakout: The Game
Who: Fresno State (14-9, 8-4 MW)
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Moby Arena
Tickets available at www.CSURams.com
Game will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network