Hot shooting continued Wednesday for Colorado State’s women’s basketball team in Des Moines, Iowa as the Rams beat Drake University 69-56 on the road behind a career night for Hanne Mestdagh.
The junior guard came off the bench in the first half and erupted for five three-pointers against the Drake’s 2-3 zone defense. The Bulldogs certainly kept CSU from scoring near the basket in the first half, but the Rams were not bothered as they built up a 14-point lead quickly in the opening half on eight three-pointers.
Mestdagh tied her career-high in points in the first half when she hit 15 after draining her fifth from downtown. Jamie Patrick chipped in early with two shots from behind the arc and added another long two-pointer in her starting role.
“We knew they were going to come out in a zone,” Patrick said. “We had our zone offense planned and ready and we knew what shots we were going to get. We knew when we got them, we had to take them.”
“That’s the way you have to beat a zone, shoot it up and make them guard you more,” Mestdagh said. “I knew I had to be ready because this was the first time this season we knew were going to play against 40 minutes of zone,” the junior said of her early streak.
But CSU coach Ryun Williams’ squad was unable to keep up the shooting display to close the first half. Drake took off after Caitlin Ingle hit a jumper for the Bulldogs with 7:45 on the clock in the first, sparking a 17-8 Bulldog run to pull the game within three at the half, 38-35.
“They finished the half on a really strong tempo,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said on the KIIX 1410 radio broadcast after the game. “That’s why they got right back in the game, they turned themselves loose. They got the three-ball going and we got on our heels, then they drove it at us in transition.”
Within that run, Drake sophomore and Missouri Valley Conference scoring leader Lizzy Wendell (22.3) netted six of her own. Other than that stretch, though, CSU contained the scoring guard well, allowing her only 12 points on the night before she fouled out with 2:45 left in the game. Ellen Nystrom and Victoria wells shared the duty of guarding Wendell.
“They did a great job defensively on her,” Mestdagh said. “We knew we had to shut her down and not give her the chance to get in the game. We really guarded well collectively.”
“I thought we really gathered ourselves in the second half and didn’t give any easy baskets at all,” Williams said of his team’s defensive efforts.
The second half opened up in back-and-forth fashion, as Ingle and CSU’s Ellen Nystrom paced their respective teams offensively. Ingle hit a three and followed with a drive to the basket she finished through a foul, converting the free throw for the and-one to rattle off a one-player 6-0 run that gave Drake its first lead 46-44 with 14 minutes left. The sophomore finished with a game-high 19 points, grabbing eight rebounds as well.
But Nystrom showed up big in the second half for the Rams, too, scoring 14 of her 18 points while also snatching up five rebounds to add to her three from the first half.
CSU traded baskets with Drake until a Nystrom jumper recaptured the lead for the Rams 50-49, and the Rams never looked back. An 11-0 CSU run ensued that included Mestdagh’s sixth three-pointer of the night, giving the Rams a 12-point lead, 61-49 with under five minutes to play. Mestdagh finished with 18 points, joining Nystrom to lead the team.
CSU is now 4-0 in its all time series against Drake, and Ryun Williams moved to within two victories of 300 in his career, with a current record of 298-182 (.621). CSU improves to 4-2 on the season while Drake slides to 3-4.
“This is a big win, a great, great road win,” Williams said. “A lot of teams come away with losses here.”
Collegian sports reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @samlounz.