Video by Eddie Herz
CSU’s women’s basketball team was too tall, too efficient and too talented for Wyoming to handle in this season’s first installment of the Border War on Saturday. The Rams (18-1, 8-0 MW) came away with a 63-42 victory to stay undefeated in the Mountain West in front of 2,837 fans in Moby Arena.
The fashion in which the Rams dominated on Saturday was slightly uncharacteristic, though. They scored almost exclusively inside, notching a monstrous 40 points in the paint while only attempting five 3-pointers in the game.
“Inside play was the key,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said. “We had a number of points inside the paint, so I’m proud of that execution.”
Points inside come easy for CSU when the 6-foot-4 Alana Arias makes her shots. After shooting 2-for-13 Wednesday night at San Jose State, Arias found her touch again back home in Moby. The senior out of Brazil finished with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Behind stalwart defense and first half explosions from Arias, Ellen Nystrom and Keyora Wharry, the Rams built a 19-point lead, 35-16, that they took into halftime. The Cowgirls (10-10, 3-7 MW) failed to match CSU’s first half runs as they were held to just 24 percent shooting from the floor in the first two quarters.
“It’s always fun to play this Border War game, we have a ton of respect for Wyoming,” Williams said. “From the get-go, I thought we were really, really good defensively.”
Wyoming finished the game shooting at a 30 percent clip.
At the half, Nystrom had already scored 11 points and dished four assists, and Arias and Wharry had 10 points a piece. In fact, at the end of both the first and second quarters, Wharry took UW standout guard Marquelle Dent into the paint off the dribble and scored a bucket as the clock expired each time.
“She’s one of our big-time players,” Nystrom said of Wharry. “We know that at the end of the shot clock, we want to give her the ball because she can score on anybody.”
Both Wharry and Nystrom ended with 17 points each to lead the Rams.
Defensively, the Rams were stalwart in their effort against Dent, who came into Saturday ranked third in the MW in scoring with an average of 17.6 points per game and first in assists at 3.6 per game.
But Dent’s quickness couldn’t get her past Wharry, who locked down the guard out of Regis Jesuit High School in Denver. At halftime, Dent had just four points.
“I just knew she’s the engine of the team, so we didn’t want her going because it would get everyone else going,” Wharry said. “We didn’t want to have a tough, tough game, so I just decided why not put the stop on her now?”
Dent finished with 14, but shot an inefficient 4-for-15 from the floor and committed four turnovers while dishing three assists.
“Dent is obviously the key to their team,” Williams said. “She’s a dynamic point guard. That young lady is a special, special basketball player. Keyora did a really good job on her. I thought Keyora had a senior type of game, where she did a great job and competed on Dent, and she was really locked in offensively.”
With the win, CSU kept its historical start to the season alive. Its 18-1 start to this year is the best since the 1998-99 team led by Becky Hammon. The victory also extended CSU’s win streak to 15 games, with the season’s sole loss coming back on Nov. 24 at Penn.
CSU’s next game comes Wednesday at home against San Diego State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.