The Colorado State women’s basketball team remained undefeated Saturday night (3-0) with a well-earned 61-55 victory over visiting Brigham Young (2-2) in what turned out to be a very physical contest down the stretch.
“That was just a really gutty, gritty win by our basketball team against a really good, mature team,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said.
After taking a 44-36 lead into the fourth quarter, BYU cut the lead down to 53-50 with just a minute remaining in the game. Hannah Tvrdy then answered by burying a 3-pointer to extend the Ram lead to six. CSU then executed down the stretch defensively and found enough offense to finish off the Cougars.
Keyora Wharry led the way offensively for CSU, finishing with 14 points. Elin Gustavsson chipped in 12, including 10 in the first half.
BYU’s Lexi Rydalch notched her second double-double in as many seasons against the Rams. Rydalch finished with a game high 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds. She also knocked down five 3-pointers. A year ago, Rydalch tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds against CSU.
“I’m glad I don’t have to guard Ryldalch again,” Williams said. “That kid is a special basketball player.”
CSU once again put together a collective defensive effort, holding BYU to 33 percent shooting from the field and causing 20 turnovers. Coming into the game, CSU had forced 53 turnovers in their first two games, including 34 steals which ranked seventh nationally.
“We play really good defense together,” Gustavsson said. “We’re there as a team and everything we do is as a team.”
CSU was a potent defensive team a year ago. Although the Rams are only three games into the season, they might be even better this year.
“This group likes to compete,” Williams said.” I think we are better defensively.”
After two lopsided victories over Western State and Incarnate Word, BYU presented CSU with a challenge they had yet to face this season.
“That was the first time we had seen anything like that all year, “Williams said. “We kept our poise, we didn’t give in. We just kept defending.”
CSU got off to a fast start, taking a quick 13-2 lead early in the first quarter. The team rode that momentum to a nine-point halftime lead. CSU struggled countering the BYU defense at times in the second half, and turning the ball over 22 times for the game.
However, when big plays were needed late, the Rams made them. Jamie Patrick nailed a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third, and Tyrdy delivered the dagger late. The Rams also went 13-14 from the free-throw line.
After losing to BYU a year ago, the taste of victory was very welcomed.
“That was a meaningful win,” Wharry said. “A win is a win.”
Riding a 3-0 record, the Rams will travel across the country Tuesday to face Penn.
Collegian Sports Reporter Michael Roley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @M_Roley.