CSU women’s hoops continues early season roll with 60-37 home win over Incarnate Word

Sam Lounsberry

Not every game will look like an exhibition this year.
 
Starting Saturday, when CSU’s women’s hoops team plays BYU, the Rams will finally be put to the test against a Division I opponent worth worrying about for CSU coach Ryun Williams and his team.
 
But so far, the season has been a steamroll, which continued Tuesday night as the Rams (2-0) took down Southland Conference foe Incarnate Word (1-1) 60-37 in their first contest against a Div. I team this season in front of 688 people in Moby Arena. With the win, the Rams start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2009.
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Standout CSU forward Ellen Nystrom lays in a fastbreak layup in CSU’s 60-37 win over Incarnate Word on Tuesday. Photo by Abbie Parr. 
 
Ellen Nystrom led the way for the Rams with 21 points, a mark that tied her career-high. Coming out of halftime, the junior forward hit a quick layup set up by a backdoor cut, and followed with a wide-open 3-pointer to help put CSU over the hump 34-14 with 9:11 to play in the third quarter.
 
“I had good looks in the post, some good cuts, good passes, steals, just kind of those easy points, not very loud points, they’re kind of quiet,” Nystrom said. “It’s just what they give me, I’ll take it.”
 
Not everything came easy for the Rams, though. They struggled communicating on offense out of the gate, committing two straight turnovers on their initial possessions. CSU turned it over 10 times in the opening half, but held the Cardinals to 6-for-29 shooting in the first two quarters, a 20.7 percent clip, to take a 29-14 lead into halftime.
 
“In any game, you have to get into a flow,” Williams said.
 
The Rams turned it over just six times in the second half.
 
“Our kids do a nice job of making adjustments,” he added.
 
No Cardinal nothched double-digit scoring for Incarnate Word. Its offense also had to endure the turnover bug, too, as it ended with 20 itself, a few of which came in the face of CSU’s high-pressure half-court defense. The Rams also used a full court press for short bursts.
 
Wharry picked up four steals , and Nystrom chipped in a fastbreak layup in the first half that she created with a steal of her own on a pass well outside the 3-point line at the other end.
 
“We limited their strengths tonight,” Williams said.
 
Senior guard Keyora Wharry was the only other player besides Nystrom to notch double-digits for the Rams, scoring 10 on 4-for-8 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Senior forward Emilie Hesseldal tallied a game-high 12 rebounds, six of which were offensive.
 
For fans in attendance Tuesday who thought the Rams looked a little disengaged in their second straight domination, Williams ensured that will not be the case Saturday against BYU. Last year, the Cougars got the better of the Rams 69-58 in Salt Lake City thanks to a monster, 30 point, 12 rebound performance by guard Lexi Eaton-Rydalch, who returned this year for her senior season. Hesseldal also went down with an elbow injury against the Cougars, and missed several games thereafter.
 
“They’ll be more fired up Saturday than they were tonight,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said of his team.
 
The Cougars have made an NCAA Tournament appearance for two consecutive seasons, going to the Sweet 16 in 2013-14.
 
“Always (as an) underdog, you want to bring more energy, you want to set the tone early, and you want them to know on the first play of the game that we’re no joke,” Wharry said of the upcoming bout with the Cougars.
 
CSU tips off at 7 p.m. Saturday against BYU.
 
Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.