Video by Sam Lounsberry
For most of the night it seemed much tighter than it turned out to be.
CSU women’s basketball (19-1, 9-0 MW) pulled away from San Diego State (6-15, 1-9) Wednesday night in Fort Collins for a 70 -54 win in a game that played much closer than the 16-point final margin would suggest.
With the win, the Rams pushed their winning streak to 16 games and remain undefeated in conference play.
Jamie Patrick came out hot for the Rams, scoring CSU’s first eight points of the game. Patrick, CSU’s leading scorer on the season, led the Rams with 14 points on an efficient 6-for-7 from the field.
Ariell Bostick finished with just 12 points to lead SDSU, using her quickness to battle to the hoop for layups throughout the game.
In what was an ugly first quarter, stingy defense from San Diego State forced the Rams into some rushed looks in the opening minutes of the game.
The Aztecs, who force 16.7 turnovers a game, forced six CSU turnovers in the first 10 minutes, including two travels by Alana Arias on consecutive possessions.
“Our mindset of the beginning of the game, it wasn’t right,” said CSU coach Ryun Williams. “We need to go out and attack the first quarter, attack that first five minutes. … We didn’t try to assert ourselves.”
CSU’s offense in the first quarter ran through the three point line as the Rams hit four of five threes, yielding 12 of their 16 first quarter points.
Even with the hot shooting from the three-point line, the Rams only lead by five after the first, which was largely a result of the early turnovers.
As it has been for much of the season, the Rams locked down on defense and began to turn the game around in the second quarter. CSU held the Aztecs to just 1-for-8 shooting to close the half. For the entire first half, SDSU shot a cold 8-for-25 from the field.
“Our defense is what we have to lean on,” Williams said. “Especially when you have those nights where offensively, we just weren’t moving it like we should have been. Our motion was a little stale, and we had to rely on our defense.”
The Aztecs heated up right out of halftime, putting forth their most consistent offensive performance of the game by shooting 4-for-7 through the first five and a half minutes in the third, cutting CSU’s lead to only seven points.
From then on, the Rams again bottled up SDSU, holding them to one of seven shooting for the rest of the quarter.
Any time SDSU gathered any momentum and cut into CSU’s lead, which stretched to as much as 22 in the fourth quarter, the Rams’ stifling defense stopped any significant push. For the game, SDSU shot 20-for-55 from the field, and 6-for-20 from the 3-point line. The Rams also held the Mountain West’s sixth leading scorer, McKynzie Fort, to only nine points on the night.
The seemingly unengaged offense and turnovers of the first half for the Rams turned into one of their most efficient offensive performances of the season. For the game CSU shot 55.6 percent from the field, including a hot 50 percent from 3-point range.
5-foot-10 guard Keyora Wharry muscled her way to 10 points on a night where Williams admitted she was under the weather during the contest. Alana Arias rebounded from her tough start at the beginning of the game, scoring 12 points to join Patrick and Wharry in double-figures.
Ellen Nystrom flirted with a triple-double, finishing with a stat line reading much like that of Draymond Green. The versatile junior tallied nine points, seven rebounds and nine assists on the night, but she brushed off any emphasis on her statistics, adding that she didn’t put any extra effort into the crashing the boards to up her stat line.
“Let’s just get one thing straight,” Willaims said as he entered the room after Nystrom finished talking about coming close to the triple-double. “If we would let Ellen go to the offensive glass she would foul out in the first half. I’ll get the last word on that.”
The Rams look to remain undefeated in conference play, and push their win streak to 17 games as they take on Nevada on the road on Saturday at 5 p.m. The game can be streamed on the MW Network and broadcast on AM 1410 KIIX.
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @eric_wolf5.