Colorado State’s women’s basketball was stifled early and often by the University of Oklahoma’s high-motor defense, eventually falling by a lopsided tally of 78-46.
In an opening quarter where the Rams held the Sooners to a mere 38.9 percent shooting, they started behind and continued to try to climb from a deficit throughout the quarter. The Sooners switched to a zone defense early and the Rams were unable to overcome their energy as they turned the ball over three times and failed to lead once.
Junior Sofie Tryggedsson led the team in scoring in the opening quarter, hitting her team-leading ninth 3-pointer on the year, as well as a step back jumper in the key. Failing to capitalize on the Sooners mistakes, the Rams did not hit a single free throw despite reaching the line one more time than their counterparts in the first quarter. The Rams were only able to hit two in the entire half, equalling the Sooners despite having five more attempts.
“It’s a free throw,” coach Ryun Williams said. “Whether you’re playing Oklahoma or whether you’re playing whoever, it’s a free throw. I think we let the game pressure get to us a little bit. Our head was going a lot faster tonight than it’s been all season.”
A vital part of their upset over Gonzaga, Tryggedsson lit a fire in the Rams once again, hitting a late first quarter 3-pointer, followed by another in the second. The Rams deadliest sharpshooter, Tryggedsson has been a catalyst for the team’s success early in the year.
Unfortunately for the Rams, Oklahoma freshman Shaina Pellington capitalized early as well, scoring a team-leading seven points in the first half. Pellington and the other Sooner guards were able to take advantage of a steep speed advantage over the Rams, consistently pushing the ball inside and kicking out to wide open shooters.
A half to forget, the Rams were unable to score a single point for more than half of the second quarter, enduring an eight-minute stretch to end the quarter without a single field goal. After a tally of eight points in the first third of the period, the Rams were unable to carry over any of the momentum as the Sooners pushed their halftime lead to 31-19.
“Obviously they’re talented,” senior Hanna Tvrdy said. “If you make those little mistakes, (Oklahoma) is gonna hurt you on that. But I just think that run was just defensively, we weren’t locked in 100 percent and when you’re like that, they’re gonna take advantage.”
Coming out of the break, the Rams finally scored their first field goal in over 12 minutes midway through the quarter with a layup by senior Veronika Mirkovic.
The Sooners pushed their lead to over 20 for much of the half, led by senior guard Gabbi Ortiz and her hot hand from beyond the arc. Ortiz hit more 3-pointers than the entire Rams team through three quarters on a scorching 62.5 percent. With the Rams usually dishing out their hot hand in Tryggedsson, they were given a dose of their own medicine from the Sooners.
“They (were) gonna have to make a lot of threes,” Williams said. “Ortiz got going in the third quarter, that’s a special kid right there. That’s a kid who likes the lights and you could see that.”
Despite holding the Sooners without a field goal in the final three-and-half minutes of the third quarter, the Rams still went into the concluding period trailing 54-30.
The final quarter served as more of the same as the Rams once again failed to take advantage of trips to the free throw line, and failed to claw back from their large deficit. The Rams seniors were unable to will the team to a late comeback and the young Rams team showed their stripes in a woeful effort.
After an early-season upset of Gonzaga, the Rams were unable to conjure up a second winning formula as underdogs against the Sooners. As a team that just dropped out of the top 25, the Sooners brought prestige into Moby and showed their superior talent in every phase of the game.
“We have to learn from this,” Tvrdy said. “I just think our mindset, especially the second half, just wasn’t where it needed to be and that’s something we can control.”
Of the few bright spots for the Rams, redshirt freshman Grace Colaivalu gave the team a spark off the bench, highlighted by a behind-the-back dribble en route to a left-handed layup in the face of the Sooners nationally recognized center, senior Vionise Pierre-Louis. After averaging a double-double in her first three games, the Rams limited Pierre-Louis to a lowly six points and six rebounds, well below her averages of 21 points and 11.3 rebounds.
“The mindset is always to come in and bring something to the team,” Colaivalu said. “It doesn’t matter if you start, come off the bench, you gotta bring something. And coming off the bench, I feel like, watching the game from the bench, you’ve gotta know and say, ‘Okay this is what I have to do better since no one else is doing it, I have to come and do it.’”
The Rams will head into their matchup at home against North Carolina Central on Saturday with a .500 record against top teams and an overall record to match (2-2). The matchup continues a streak on in-state games for the Rams, where they do not travel out of the state until the beginning of January.
Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.