The bottom of the bucket could not be found by the San Jose State Spartans Saturday afternoon as the Colorado State Rams held them to only 48 points in their 63-48 victory. The Spartans came into Fort Collins averaging 73.3 points per game and a 36 percent 3-point shooting mark.
“Good win on a short turnaround,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “San Jose is always a difficult team to play, they put a lot of penetration on the floor, they really stretch you, they all shoot the three so I thought our efforts, really in that second half especially, was quite outstanding defensively.”
The Rams (9-4, 1-1 MW) came off a home loss to the Boise State Broncos Thursday to open up conference play. Still, the defending Mountain West champions stayed collected as they know every game is important, according to redshirt freshman Grace Colaivalu.
The young guard led the Rams against the Broncos with 26 points and carried her success over to the Spartans by putting up 15 more Saturday with seven of those coming in the fourth period.
“It’s nice playing with Grace, you know they’ve got to pay attention to her she’s so good (in the paint),” Stine Austgulen said. “She’s really good at looking out and finding the open person on the 3-point line so that makes (shooting threes) a lot easier.”
“It was just a mental thing with me,” Colaivalu said on her second half outburst. “The first, half my mind was not there all the way and my teammates were like ‘come on, let’s go you got to get it going,’ because Stine needs to shoot some threes, I need to draw some people so I just had to get my head in the game.”
Colaivalu continued to drive to the basket and make layups on a night when the Rams really struggled to finish the close shots.
All day the Rams were able to grab offensive boards or drive the ball in close to the rim, but could not finish the layups. The Rams had 15 offensive rebounds but only 10 second-chance points.
“Our standard is we need to finish (the close layups),” Williams said. “Some of our fans were saying, ‘That’s still good offense.’ It’s only good offense if you make the play. These kids are too good to leave I think a lot of points off that scoreboard.”
However the Rams as a team would finish the game overall by extending their five-point third quarter lead to a 15-point victory. The drives by Colaivalu in the fourth opened up space for redshirt senior Stine Austgulen to knock down three of her five threes in the game. The Norway native finished with 17 points to lead all scorers which tied her career high that came on the road last season against the Spartans.
“I just shot it to be honest with you,” Austgulen said. “Some of the coaches were getting mad at me because I didn’t shoot it as much in the first when they thought I should have. That’s always nice when people are yelling at you for not shooting it so I just kept going kind of and they went in and it felt good.”
Overall the Rams outshot the Spartans (4-9, 1-1 MW) 39.4 percent to 34.5 percent, which is slightly more than then 33.7 percent the Rams usually give up. The Rams 14th ranked defensive rebounding average became a big factor in the second half as they won the rebound margin 45-35 after trailing 21-15 at halftime. The Rams picked up 30 boards on the defensive end with 19 of them coming in the second half.
The second quarter was the low point for the Rams as they missed nine of their last 11 shots in the period before redshirt senior Hannah Tvrdy hit a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Rams a 28-26 lead at halftime. Tvrdy picked up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds on 40 percent shooting.
Up next for the Rams will be their first road test of conference play when they travel to take on the San Diego State Aztecs. The game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.