It was just like the other day, but with a sweeter ending.
On Saturday, the CSU women’s basketball team was locked in a close battle with Boise State that went down to the wire. The Rams had some costly turnovers down the stretch that proved too much to pull out a win.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and the situation was quite similar. San Jose State was leading 58-53 with over two minutes left to play, but things went a lot differently for the home team.
Two Ellen Nystrom free-throws cut the lead to two, then following a Myanne Hamm steal, CSU got the ball back on offense where Nystrom buried a clutch 3-pointer that knotted the game at 58 with 38 seconds to play.
The Rams then got a stop on the ensuing possession and had a chance to win it, but a Sofie Tryggedsson 3-point attempt missed just wide and the game headed to overtime.
It was there where CSU sealed the deal once and for all. They took a 62-60 lead on a Hannah Tvrdy reverse layup and wouldn’t relinquish it. They stretched the overtime lead to six and were able to stave off two late Spartan 3-pointers to earn a hard-fought 70-67 in front of a scarce crowd who braved it to Moby even through Wednesday’s snowstorm.
After Saturday’s setback to the Broncos, the Rams didn’t want to lose a second conference game in as many times out. The win should only do positive things for the team’s confidence moving forward.
“This group needed this. This should springboard us a little bit and give us some confidence,” coach Ryun Williams said. “Just proud of the victory.”
Nystrom was unreal, the senior from Lulea, Sweden finished the night with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists. Her Swedish teammate Elin Gustavsson tallied a double-double—the first time this year CSU had two players record one—with 20 points and 11 boards.
It looked as if CSU had this one in the bag, leading by as much 12 in the game and nine with nine minutes to go in the game. And, the Spartans’ Dezz Ramos was electric. SJSU’s point guard did her best Allen Iverson impersonation, finishing the night with 34 points, which included 26 in the second half.
She practically single-handily brought SJSU back in the fourth quarter, scoring nine consecutive Spartan points in the first four minutes of the fourth period.
The finale of the game was somewhat of a roller-coaster. But, the Rams were able to weather the storm and come out on top at the end of the day.
“We probably made it closer than we wanted to, “Nystrom said. “But I mean we got the win.”
“It was not that we relaxed,” Gustavsson added. “It was some missed shots, they made some really big shots. You just have to handle the situation and I felt like we did that.”
CSU was dominant in the paint, outscoring the Spartans 44-20. As a result, they were able to compensate for a 2-of-15 shooting night from behind the 3-point line with buckets around the rim. Afterward, Gustavsson said that it wasn’t so much that scoring inside is a great strength of the team that they must do in order to win every night. It was just what was working tonight, so they kept with it.
“That was a way to score and of course we take that opportunity,” Gustavsson said. “I don’t think it’s like ‘We only score here, we only score there.’ Tonight that was the spot.”
This victory also marked Williams’ 100th career win at CSU. However, he wasn’t too gleeful about the personal accolade, instead the Rams’ fifth-year coach was satisfied to come out on the winning side.
“I don’t give a rats tail what my record is. All I know is we won tonight,” he said. “As a coaching staff all you want to do is put your kids in a good spot to go win a basketball game. We’ve been fortunate to have really, really good players in our time here. Hopefully, we can keep winning a lot more.”
CSU will head out on to the road Saturday to play Air Force down at the Academy at 4 p.m. MT.
Sports Reporter Michael Roley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @michael_roley