Photos by: Dylan Langille
As the final buzzer in Moby sounded on Friday night, the tears started falling from the faces of seniors Sam Martin, Hayley Thompson and Alicia Nichols.
Their college basketball careers of playing on the wooden floors of the arena had come to an end.
Even though their tears were impossible for them hold back, they had more than one reason to smile in front of the crowd of 3,119 on Friday night. They had just sealed a rivalry win against the University of Wyoming Cowgirls, 58-46.
“It’s really cool,” Martin said. “It’s been a great four years. There’s been a lot of ups and downs and to end it like this just means everything to me.”
In their previous matchup against the Cowgirls, the Rams suffered a tough 26 point loss in Laramie. In that game, three Wyoming players combined for a total of 59 points. However, this time around, CSU was able to hold sharpshooters Kaitlyn Mileto, Marquelle Dent and Kayla Woodward to just 22 points.
“Our kids competed really well in the half court tonight, I mean really well,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “To hold Woodward to zero points was great, and we did a great job on Mileto and really a decent job on Dent. We said ‘lets turn our kids loose, go compete.’ It wasn’t a special plan, just wind yourselves up, turn yourselves loose and go compete.”
And “compete” is exactly what the Rams lineup did. Throughout the course of the night, three CSU players ended their regular season with double-digit points.
Guard Gritt Ryder had 15 points, Martin had 12 and guard Ellen Nystrom led the team with 20.
Every girl on the team knew just how important Friday’s win was. To get the Border War win and to end senior night with a victory was at the forefront of each of their minds.
“We really emphasized that this is a rivalry game,” Martin said. “This is Wyoming’s only rivalry game and they treat it like that all the time, so we have to treat it like that, too. We just came out really wanting to win this game. Honestly, I really think that we just came together, we all talked about having to finish this season together, we know we have so much potential, so lets do this.”
As CSU finished their regular season, they did so raising their Mountain West Conference regular season championship trophy in the air as the green and gold confetti fell to the ground.
This team went from being the last in the conference to being number one throughout the course of a single year, ending their 2013-2014 season with a 23-6 record — the best this program has seen in over a decade.
“Holding that trophy was great,” Williams said. “We’ve come along way. Our program has made some nice strides in a short amount of time and all the credit goes to those kids. So to be able to present the trophy to my team was the best.”
With the end of this regular season comes great potential for the conference playoffs that begin in Las Vegas on Monday. However, the Rams still made time to bask in the glory of their immediate success that came in the regular season.
“Holding that trophy was awesome,” Martin said with a look of combined bliss and disbelief. “This group of girls is really special and you don’t get teams like this all the time. I’ve loved all my teammates, but this year is definitely something. It’s fun to celebrate something like that on the court, with our fans, on our last game, with each other.”
Collegian sports reporter Hannah Cornish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @HMCornish.
Gritt Ryder: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Sam Martin: 12 points, 5 rebounds
Ellen Nystrom: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists