As Ellen Nystrom goes so do the Colorado State Rams.
Nystrom’s free-throw line jumper with two seconds left in overtime gave the Rams (19-6, 11-2 MW) a 66-64 win at Fresno State in a strong comeback effort. Nystrom finished with a game-high 18 points and added six rebounds and six assists.
Adding to the stellar performance Nystrom passed CSU great Becky Hammon as the school’s all-time assist leader (539).
With 11 seconds remaining in overtime head coach Ryun Williams called a timeout and put the ball in his superstar’s hands.
“It’s a play that we practice,” Williams said in a statement. “We just told her in the timeout ‘make sure you look for your jump shot.’ She can just rise up over everybody and she did. She just planted one, two and rose up over the second-best shot blocker in the country. Ballgame.”
“I wanted to make it,” Nystrom joked. “I was just trying to go at her and see what she was going to do. She kind of backed off, so that’s when I rose up.”
However it did not always look promising for the Rams who trailed by 10 after the first quarter. The same offensive woes that have hindered them in the previous two games appeared as though they would rear their ugly head once more.
In the second half, however, they began executing at a much higher rate. The open shots that were not falling the previous two and a half games found the bottom of the net while the defense remained steady.
Under 13 seconds remaining in the game and the Rams trailing by three, Myanne Hamm was the first to come to the rescue. On the defensive end Hamm forced a jump ball that favored CSU. Just seven seconds later Hamm found herself open in the corner and drilled the game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
“That’s Myanne. She don’t give two rats’ tails,” Williams said. “She just has a confidence and says, ‘hey I’m gonna let it fly. If I miss it, I miss it.’ She put a good stroke on it and I love it when Myanne gets that fist pump. And you can talk about the shot but the tie up she had I thought was the key to the game. That was equally as big as the three-point basket.”
Hamm finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including three makes from three-point range, in 23 minutes of action. This game follows a trend of successful play from Hamm who has established herself as a threat coming of the CSU bench.
“Myanne has been playing really well lately, really well,” Williams said in a statement. “The game is pretty controlled in her head.”
Gustavsson contributed 17 points and 14 rebounds including a number of offensive boards in the overtime period. Stine Austgulen was the only other Ram in double-digits with 11 points while playing all 45 minutes of action.
After losing to Utah State last time out the win provides some momentum for the Rams to finish up the year and keeps them atop the Mountain West standings.
The Rams now turn their attention toward the Wyoming Cowgirls, the team nipping at their heels in the conference standings. Moby Arena will host the northern rival on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_