Highlights provided by CTV Sports’ Alexandria Clough
Behind a season high 20 points from Elin Gustavsson, the CSU women’s basketball team defeated the Denver Pioneers in convincing fashion, 76-49.
The 20 points moved Gustavsson into 17th place on CSU’s all-time scoring list and helped pull the Rams (3-3) back to .500 on the young season. After playing three of their first five games on the road, the Rams were welcomed back to Moby by 1,112 fans.
Efficiency was the name of the game for the entire night for the Rams as they shot 46 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the arc. All of Stine Austgulen’s 12 points came from the three-pointer, marking a career high in three-point field goals for her.
One of the largest separators of the game was points off turnovers. Constant defensive pressure from the Rams led to an incredible 23 Pioneer turnovers which the Rams converted into 29 points. DU tallied just six points off turnovers. Head coach Ryun Williams praised his team’s defensive efforts.
“We’ve got some length, we feel we can get some touches in the half court,” Williams said. “If we really guard and rebound, get some turnovers, we can get extra possessions and extra points. We need that, we’re still a work in progress offensively. So if we can create some offense by what we do defensively, we surely welcome that.”
Even when the game was well out of reach, the Rams continued their stout defense. In the final 16 minutes of play, DU converted just three field goals.
Austgulen’s three-point barrage came in the second half on two separate back-to-back possessions. The three-point success was a welcome sight for a team that had been struggling percentage wise from deep.
“Coach put me in there to shoot it and I got great passes from my teammates,” Austgulen said. “All I had to do was smack them down. It was of course nice to see them go in.”
After struggling in the opening quarters for much of the season, the Rams reversed that trend by getting out to a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Much of that early lead can be credited to Gustavsson, who scored seven of the team’s first nine points after coming out aggressive. Following a dismal game against Oklahoma, Gustavsson bounced back at the perfect time for her team.
“Coach told me ‘don’t think too much,’” Gustavsson said. “I feel like I have so much to give. And this time I just didn’t think and wanted to be there for my team. Like I said, I have a big role and I want to show them that they can rely on me.”
The early competition that the team has faced, despite not resulting in wins, has matured them for later tournament games.
“It’s fun,” Gustavsson said. “I love that we are playing more players and I love that our teammates are having good games because it gives a lot of energy.”
Along with early competition, the team is still trying to find the right combinations of players that will lead to victory. Although it is a learning process, it’s one that the team must undergo to be successful later in the season.
“It’s still a long way to go,” Williams said. “We’re gonna use all of these games until conference play to gain some traction. It will help our kids, it will help our team. When? I don’t know if it helps us now. But it will help us come March.”
Up next for the Rams is a home tilt against Southeaster Louisiana on Friday at 7 p.m.
Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_