CSU women’s basketball ambushed by New Mexico at The Pit 67-40

Sam Lounsberry

Absolutely nothing went right for Colorado State’s women’s basketball Wednesday night.

Poor shooting doomed the Rams (17-6, 9-3 MW) at The Pit, as they fell to New Mexico (13-10, 9-3 MW) 67-40 to split the season series, resulting in a slide for CSU in Mountain West standings into a tie for second with the Lobos, trailing Fresno State.

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Offensively, CSU looked the same as when it beat the Lobos 44-38 at Moby Arena last month in a low-scoring defensive battle, but New Mexico shot much better Wednesday than they did last time. Going 28-for-57 from the field for a clip of 49 percent, the Lobos shattered CSU’s average opponent shooting percentage of 33 percent against conference foes while the Rams shot a miserable 24 percent on the night.

CSU head coach Ryun Williams correctly predicted keeping the Lobos from snagging offensive rebounds and winning the battle on the interior as keys for his team, but the Rams failed to do so as New Mexico netted a whopping 38 points in the paint, some of which came off its 11 offensive rebounds for eight second-chance points.

CSU point guard Gritt Ryder noted that guards failed to provide the necessary help on New Mexico’s physical presence inside.

“Us guards need to make sure the posts don’t catch it low, tonight we let the posts be on their own,” Ryder said.

New Mexico simply had one of those nights when everything falls for everyone on the roster. Guards Charise Beynon and Bryce Owens came into the CSU matchup averaging eight points per game a piece, but the duo combined for 16 before the end of the first half Wednesday night. Beynon finished with a game-high 18 on the night on 8-for-10 shooting, while Owens notched 11. No Ram reached double-figures scoring.

It was rough going out of the gate for CSU. Williams joked that New Mexico’s turning point “was maybe when the ref tossed the ball up.”

The first half included a stretch of 7:30 in which the Rams went scoreless as they missed nine consecutive field goal attempts. The drought only ended after two free throws by Ryder, with 3:21 left in the first half, but the Lobos built up a lead of 14 points during the Rams’ offensive troubles.

Alana Arias finally hit a field goal for CSU with 1:14 to go in the half, closing the gap to a manageable 12, 31-19, but UNM closed the half on a 5-0 run allowed by an Antiesha Brown 3-pointer that she followed with a steal on the other end, and a dish to Khadijah Shumpert for a layup at the buzzer. CSU trailed 36-19 at the break.

“First of all, let’s give New Mexico credit, I mean they just came in here and ambushed us,” Williams said.

The second half opened in the same manner that characterized the first, as the Lobos went on a 6-0 run to push their lead to 21, 40-19, before CSU even scored a bucket. Brown started it off for UNM with an athletic one-handed tip-in to add two to the Lobos’ second-chance points total. Following was another Brown bucket, scored off another offensive rebound, then Beynon made a layup before AJ Newton finally hit a three to get the Rams on the board in the second frame.

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“We just had one of those nights where nothing was good, whether it be our energy, our toughness, our execution or our shooting,” Williams said.

While Fresno State has only one conference loss, the Mountain West is a league where any team can beat any other in the women’s game. Plus, CSU experienced a similar loss last year right around this time in a 75-49 domination by Wyoming en route to its regular season title captured with a three-loss record.

“If we win the next six, we still have a good chance,” Ryder said. “We can’t dwell too long on (this New Mexico loss), we need to move on and be prepared for San Diego State.”

CSU returns home to play the Aztecs Saturday at 2 p.m. in a Valentine’s Day Pink Out game at Moby Arena.

Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.