Smooth sailing for CSU to end non-conference play with road win over Denver

Sam Lounsberry

DENVER, Colorado – No surprise.

CSU’s women’s hoops team ended its non-conference season exactly the way head coach Ryun Williams wanted Sunday; with a 75-46 road win over Denver University (2-10) in Magness Arena.

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The blowout ensures the Rams (10-1) will begin Mountain West play with just one blemish on their record, which came to Penn on Nov. 24.

Keyora cuts
CSU guard Keyora Wharry (3) cuts into the paint against Denver University during CSU’s 74-46 win on the road at Magness Arena on Sunday. Photo by Sam Lounsberry.

“We did a great job, we had a tough schedule,” CSU guard Stine Austgulen said. “It is really good to be 10-1 even though I’m still kind of upset we lost that one game because we could have won that.”

Since losing to Penn, CSU has won seven straight, including a double-overtime thriller over Navy and a last-second win over the Colorado Buffs.

“I think the non-conference prepared us well,” Williams said. “Hopefully. We’ll find out. Everybody is 0-0 here starting in another week or so.”

Through the first half against the Pioneers, though, CSU mistakes made for a close contest. After one quarter, the score was tied 16-16, thanks to two made free throws by DU guard Tori Bryant in the quarter’s closing seconds following an Emilie Hesseldal foul on the offensive glass.

The Rams barely stayed on top in the second quarter, as well. A wild running jumper off a loose ball by Jamie Patrick closed out the second half, and gave CSU just a six-point lead at the break, 30-24.

“Mentally, we were off a little bit,” Williams said. “That first and second quarter, you could just tell. Missing bunnies, fouling, silly fouls. It will find you, the game will find you, mistakes will find you if you’re not locked in mentally. And they just cleaned it up at halftime. We didn’t get too crazy on them.”

That shot was all Patrick needed to get going. CSU used a 26-point third quarter, sparked by the 3-point shooting of Patrick and Austgulen, to pull away from DU once and for all. Austgulen came out on fire, hitting four shots, three from beyond the arc, to score 11 points in the third. Patrick got hot shortly after, netting her own trio of treys in the quarter after she had missed her only previous 3-point attempt.

“I just hit the first three, and they left me open so I just kept shooting it,” Austgulen said. “Then Jamie started hitting it. I don’t know, it was fun to play.”

CSU guard Stine Austgulen goes up for two in the paint surrounded by  swarm of Denver Pioneers during CSU's 74-46 win on the road.
CSU guard Stine Austgulen goes up for two in the paint surrounded by swarm of Denver Pioneers during CSU’s 74-46 win on the road. Photo by Sam Lounsberry.

Patrick’s 20 points were a game-high, and Austgulen was the only other Ram to notch double-figures, ending with 13 points and two assists.

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While the duo’s hot shooting was integral to the Rams’ run, it was only allowed by the presence of forward Alana Arias inside. She scored back-to-back hook shots over DU forward Jesse Spittel in the first half.

“I thought the big key though was putting Alana inside,” Williams said. “Not that she scored it well in the second half, but they dedicated to her, and it just opened things up on the perimeter.”

DU was led by Jacqlyn Poss’ 14 points along with Jordyn Alt’s nine rebounds. Spittel ended with seven points.

“We struggled in the beginning and didn’t’ really make shots,” Austgulen added. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but when we got going it was a lot of fun. You can see everyone is contributing.”

When Austgulen gets the hot hand, Williams says she brings her teammates a greater sense of security on offense.

“I’m so happy for Stine after what she’s gone through her first couple years with all the injuries,” Williams said. “But you go back to our Navy game in the championship game in that Navy Classic, we weren’t playing well. Stine comes in and makes three 3-pointers. She allows us to breathe a little bit. Her maturity coming off the bench is great, so the fact she got those things to go just relaxed our team.”

Awaiting the Rams in their conference opener is Boise State, which comes to Moby Arena on Jan. 2 for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

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