Colorado State (9-1) handled the Panhandlers by a score of 90-45 in the Rams’ highest scoring performance of the year.
Okay, so Oklahoma Panhandle State’s team is not actually called the Panhandlers. But you wouldn’t have known any better. The OPSU Aggies are a Division II team. The game, which counted as an exhibition for OPSU, served more as a practice for the Rams before they take on Denver next Sunday. Heck, CSU coach Ryun Williams didn’t even bother to wear a tie.
“This was a game that challenges your self-discipline,” Williams said. “This isn’t a Montana, this isn’t a BYU, this isn’t a Colorado. This is a game where you’ve got to have yourself ready to go. There were no extra motivating factors today, but I thought our kids handled it fine.”
Williams said that the team’s first unit played with “great maturity” and noted that Keyora Wharry’s energy was particularly noticeable for a second straight game. Wharry finished with nine points, six rebounds (three offensive), two assists, one steal and one very emphatic block.
CSU took advantage of the undersized Aggies on the glass, winning the rebound battle 53-28. Emilie Hesseldal led with nine boards. Elin Gustavsson was the top scorer with 19 points. Her 17 first half points were the most scored by a Ram this year.
“We knew that it wasn’t like a CU team, but it was very important to show that we were the better team,” Gustavsson said. “… It doesn’t matter if it’s CU, BYU; we have to play good.”
CSU treated the game like a defensive drill, opening up on a 24-0 run (yes, you read that right) with 14 of those points coming off of turnovers. To the Aggies’ credit, they showed some resilience by ending the period on a 9-2 run to dodge the first quarter shutout.
“The thing that we learned today, is that we have to stick with our system,” Williams said. “When we got out of our system – maybe they sped us up or we tried to do things that we normally don’t try to do – we didn’t play good basketball. We had 13 first half turnovers because we’re trying to hit a home run, so to speak, on that first pitch.”
The Rams took advantage of OPSU in the open floor, scoring 10 transition points in the first half. They carried a 44-20 lead into the break.
The second half was more of the same, except with the bench doing most of the scoring. Alana Arias, who is the Rams best reserve, led the charge with 11 second half points to finish with 13 in total.
“When we come to play games like this, more people get in the rotation,” Arias said. “We get to play with different people and (get to) know how they play.”
CSU has entire week off before playing at DU on Sunday, Dec. 20. After that, the Rams will have nearly two weeks off for the holidays before beginning conference play Jan. 2, 2016 against Boise State.
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.