CSU women roll Air Force 71-47, off to best start in conference play since 1998-1999

Mike Roley

The CSU women’s basketball team (16-1, 6-0 MW) found themselves a spot in school history on Wednesday night, routing winless in-state rival Air Force (0-17, 0-6 MW) by a score of 71- 47 for their 13th consecutive win.

The Rams have now tied for the best start to conference play in school history, alongside the 1998-1999 squad led by Becky Hammon that finished 33-3 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. That team ended up running through conference play undefeated at 14-0 while playing in the Western Athletic Conference.

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Veronika Mirkovic lays the ball in during a win over Air Force. Photo: Luke Walker
Veronika Mirkovic lays the ball in during a win over Air Force. Photo: Luke Walker

“This can be a really good team,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “This group has the makings of a special team if they really want to become that. We still have to get better in some areas but they want to get better. They love to compete.”

The Rams led the entire way and dominated in nearly every statistical category. They showed their superiority defensively, holding the Falcons to 33 percent shooting from the floor, tying their season average for opponents shooting percentage allowed, which ranks eighth nationally. CSU turned converted 24 turnovers into 23 points while limiting the Falcons to 2-of-13 shooting from the 3-point line.

CSU guard Hannah Tvrdy (bottom) wrestles for a loose ball. Photo: Luke Walker
CSU guard Hannah Tvrdy (bottom) wrestles for a loose ball. Photo: Luke Walker

CSU came into the game ranked seventh nationally in points allowed, surrendering only 50.9 points per game. After holding the Falcons to 47 points, the Rams have now held opponents to less than 50 points in 11 of their 17 games this season.

Keyora Wharry led the way with 19 points, 15 of which came in the first quarter on 5-of-7 shooting. Sofie Tryggedsson came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points while knocking down three 3-pointers.

Led by Wharry, CSU took an early 21-14 lead after the first quarter on 8-of-16 shooting, aided by an aggressive Wharry attacking and getting to the free throw line where she made 5-of-7 in the first frame. The quick start helped set the tone for the game, not allowing the Falcons much hope to compete.

“We knew this team could compete if you let them, “Wharry said. “I just decided I’m not going to let them. I handled my business.”

The Rams defense tightened in the second quarter, only allowing the Falcons to score five points and limited them to an abysmal 15 percent shooting from the floor while forcing eight turnovers. CSU went into the intermission holding a 33-19 lead.

After halftime, the Rams blew the game open, outscoring Air Force 27-9 in the quarter with Tryggedsson scoring eight points and burying two 3-pointers.

The lopsided win also allowed Williams to get his entire bench in the game, offering those players important experience and confidence going forward.

“It was great to have this game,” Tryggedsson said. “It’s great to know that coach trusts me out there.”

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Air Force was led by Dee Bennett, who tallied 13 points.

The Rams haven’t lost since a 49-48 loss at Penn on Nov. 24. There is still 12 conference games remaining, however, according to Williams, the ceiling for this team is extremely high. 

“This group can do really whatever they want to do,” Williams said. “I’m excited by the fact that they love coming to practice. They love playing and competing and winning.”

CSU will have this Saturday off before hitting the road to take on San Jose State on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. MT.

Collegian Sports Reporter Michael Roley can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @michael_roley.