Video by Sam Lounsberry
A balanced offensive effort from the Colorado State women’s hoops team (16-5, 8-2 MW) lifted the Rams to a 67-58 win over Wyoming (9-11, 4-6 MW) Wednesday night at Moby Arena for the first CSU season sweep of the Border War since 2002. When the Rams traveled to Laramie earlier this month, they picked up their first win at Wyoming in 13 years.
Four CSU starters — Emilie Hesseldal, Gritt Ryder, AJ Newton and Elin Gustavsson — reached double figures scoring, combining for 53 points. Newton lead the way with 17 on 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
“There were some really good moments out there where we ran some really good motion because we put five kids out there that can score with versatility,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said. “Our balance has always been a strength of ours; we don’t play through one kid.”
The only starter to not notch at least 10 was Ellen Nystrom, who filled the role of shutting down the Mountain West’s second-ranked scorer Marquelle Dent.
Dent finished with a solid 14 points, but shot just 4-for-11 from the field while turning it over eight times and eventually fouling out with 3:27 left to play. Nystrom helped send Dent to the sideline as she lured her into two offensive fouls in the second half.
“I don’t know if there’s a tougher kid to guard in the league than Marquelle Dent,” Williams stated. “She is so difficult to defend, she’s got a big-time pull-up. (Nystrom) had to give all her attention to that matchup, and I thought she was spectacular. It was nice not to play against (Dent) in late game situations.”
The Rams overcame a shaky opening as they allowed the Cowgirls to jump out to a 12-5 lead. After a Williams timeout, though, the Rams stormed back with a vengeance, rattling off a 21-2 run that provided CSU with a double-digit lead 26-16 with 6:16 to play in the first half. Hesseldal paced the Rams early on, scoring nine of their first 16 points, including six straight. The junior forward finished with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Newton said it took Williams calling timeout for the Rams to regain their poise.
“We calmed down and just got back into the flow of what we needed to do,” Newton said of the talk during the early timeout.
While the Rams led by as many as 14 in the first half, the Cowgirls had no desire to go away after letting their early lead slip. The first half ended on a 6-0 UW run that cut CSU’s lead to just eight, 33-25, before the break.
Wyoming battled to stay within reach the rest of the game after coming out of the locker room. Following three made free throws by Ryder to start the final frame, another 6-0 UW run ensued and CSU led by just five, 36-31, four minutes into the half.
But Newton restored a commanding lead by rattling off five straight herself with a 3-pointer and a teardrop floater in the lane.
UW’s Jordan Kelley stroked an unlikely 3-pointer with 4:50 to play that brought the Cowgirls within four, 55-51. Kelley dropped a game-high 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the floor.
That shot was answered by another rare made 3-pointer from Hesseldal, though, and then Gustavsson followed with an additional trey to put the Rams back up by double-digits 61-51 with 2:21 to go. From there, UW never posed another serious threat to CSU and the Rams sealed it down the stretch at the free-throw line.
“First of all, the courage to shoot it – that’s impressive – when that’s not really your strength in that moment, that’s what I’m probably most proud of,” Williams said of Hesseldal’s late trey. “That was a big shot to get that separation so we could close it out.”
The junior said having a good night shooting and hitting the critical shot was fun, but remained mostly focused on the the final victorious result.
Video by Grace Reader, CTV11 Sports
“It felt great, I’m not going to lie, but it’s a win, and that’s whatever it takes,” Hesseldal said. “I don’t think it’s about my percentage shooting, but it’s always fun to score.”
With the win over the Cowgirls, CSU has an 11-game home winning streak that dates back to the season-opening loss to Hawaii.
The Rams’ next game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at UNLV. It will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @samlounz.