Ellen Nystrom is getting comfortable and gaining confidence as a leader of the Colorado State women’s basketball team.
“It’s a new role for me, but coach keeps getting in my ear about scoring, so I hear it everyday,” Nystrom said. “I’m getting more used to it.”
Fresh off of a 20-point outing against Southeastern Louisiana, the senior guard nearly notched a triple-double in a hard-fought 58-47 CSU (4-3) victory over the University of Northern Colorado.
“Ellen just knows how to score the ball,” teammate Hannah Tvrdy said. “When she gets going it helps the rest of us get going too.”
Against UNC, Nystrom scored 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out eight assists.
Despite Nystrom’s strong showing, collecting the win wasn’t all that easy for the Rams. UNC led 26-24 at halftime and held a a 40-39 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
“I’m happy with the win because we gutted this thing out,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “You play 30 nights out of the year and you’re just not always going to be rock solid sharp and have rock solid energy. You could tell this was the third game in six days for us. The try was there but the execution was maybe a little tired. Sometimes you have to win that way. We made some big plays-late game and that’s what you have to do in a tough, tight game.”
An 8-0 run for CSU beginning at the 9:51 mark in the fourth was the difference in the game. This spurt gave the Rams a 47-40 lead. While UNC still hung tough and only trailed 50-47 with 44.5 seconds remaining, the Rams never surrendered their late lead. Gustavsson’s block on a desperation three heaved up by the Bears with 19 seconds remaining sealed CSU’s fourth victory of the season.
“I like the poise that we played with,” Williams said. “We found different ways throughout the game to score the ball. It just showed that we played with a poise, we played with a toughness, and I thought we played with more of an intelligence tonight than we have in a while. We haven’t been in this situation this year. We’ve either been getting blown out or vice-versa, so to be in this tight game for 40 minutes, I’m okay with it.”
Elin Gustavsson and Tvrdy also reached double figures for the Rams. Gustavsson scored 11 while also adding eight rebounds. Tvrdy scored 11 as well, five of which came in the final quarter.
The Rams gained composure as the game went on. After turning the ball over five times in the opening quarter, CSU managed to only cough up five more turnovers in the rest of the game. They also shot 42.9 percent from the field in the second half, significantly better than their 37 percent mark in the first half.
“I just think the kids amped up their activity in the zone,” Williams said. “They were more determined on the ball, they were more active off the ball, and rebounded extremely well as the game went on. I think we learned that we have a little bit more courage than we thought. This was a good test for us.”
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz