When the CSU women’s basketball team went into the locker room at halftime on Saturday afternoon, a sense of deja vu started to settle in.
They found themselves down by 11 points to the only Mountain West team they’ve lost to this year, facing another potential loss to Fresno State. However, the Rams (20-4, 12-1 MW) were able to overcome their early struggles to steal a 53-47 victory for their ninth-straight win.
The third-ranked Bulldogs (14-10, 8-5 MW) had run circles around the Rams defense while simultaneously shutting down their offense in the first half, contesting every shot the Rams attempted.
With Fresno State going 6-for-15 from the 3-point line and 10-for-23 total from the field, the Rams found themselves in a position they haven’t been in since Jan. 11 when they played the same team on the road.
“It’s super frustrating to defend a team that is making threes like that,” guard Gritt Ryder said. “We were working hard to defend them and kept flying at the shooters. We thought we did a pretty good job, they just made more shots than we did.”
In CSU nerve-racking first half, the Rams went to their normal style of playing. They took a lot of perimeter shots (15) that, on a normal night, would usually go in. However, those same shots weren’t falling for the Rams this time around.
“We’ve been shooting really well lately but you just have those games sometimes where you cant shoot a three,” guard Ellen Nystom said.
The Rams shot 2-for-15 from the 3-point line in the first half along with a rough 6-for-27 in total field goal attempts.
“Fresno pressures you enough to where the game speeds up in your brain to where you don’t play as comfortably and you don’t see things as well as you normally do,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “We settled early for a lot of quick threes on the wings.”
Despite the mishaps that occurred in the first frame, the Rams came out in the second half swinging.
The first possession for the Rams in the second half resulted in a turnover, but they were immediately able to turn that around and finally steer the game in their direction.
“The start of the that second half was crucial,” Williams said. “We turned it over on the first possession but then we got it right back and we got two fast break layups and that got the crowd involved. The crowd was the MVP today.”
After cutting down the Bulldogs’ lead and the Rams got themselves back in the game, the announced attendance of 2,003 at Moby was on its feet and gave life to the CSU offense.
“It was huge to break them down a little bit and make them nervous,” Ryder said. “If they would have made some of those early shots, we would have been down 18 and that would have been really hard on us. It was good to give ourselves the feeling of ‘we can do this, we’re only down by four’.”
After coming out alive after such a competitive conference matchup, the Rams feel more confident than ever about their ability to achieve success. However, the celebration of this victory will be short-lived as CSU prepares to go to Boise State on Wednesday to take on the second-ranked Broncos (14-9, 9-3 MW).
“Boise will be a very similar game” Williams said. “They’re another really gritty team with talented athletes that can give us some fits, so we’ll have to go in with a good plan and play better than we did today.”
Collegian Reporter Hannah Cornish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Hmcornish.
CSU’s key players:
AJ Newton: 14 points, one assist, two steals
Gritt Ryder: 13 points, four assists, one block, two steals
Ellen Nystrom: 13 points, five assists, one steal