Quick start gives CSU women third consecutive 20-win season

Mike Roley

From the opening tip, there was no doubt.

The Colorado State women’s basketball team got off to a lightning quick start and gave Nevada (4-17, 3-7 MW) little hope of pulling off the upset in a 64-37 rout in Reno Saturday evening.

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CSU (20-1, 10-0 MW) had four players finish in double figures, led by Jamie Patrick with 15 points and her three 3-pointers. Elin Gustavsson tallied 14 points on 7-for-14 shooting and Ellen Nystrom stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Keyora Wharry chipped in 10 of her own to go along with six rebounds and four assists.

The Rams came out of the gates firing in the first quarter, taking an early 11-0 lead before a Nevada timeout at the 6:11 mark. Gustavsson converted the Rams first four buckets and Patrick buried a three in the early going. CSU outscored the Wolfpack 22-6 in the opening frame and put on a passing clinic, tallying seven assists in the quarter.

“That’s who we are,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “We move the basketball, we share the basketball. We don’t care who shoots it. Our kids were very unselfish tonight.”

Nevada weathered the storm slightly in the second quarter, outscoring CSU 13-11 but the Rams still held a 33-19 advantage at the break.

However, the Rams experience and maturity showed in the third quarter as they came out of halftime firing on all cylinders going on a 9-0 run to take a 42-21 lead with 7:11 to go in the period. The Rams won the quarter 25-9 and ended up taking a 30-point lead into the fourth.

“I thought the start of the first and third quarter were absolutely critical,” Williams said. “We didn’t start off too hot last time out against San Diego State. That was a huge emphasis tonight, to bring an energy and a mentality, but also to bring the execution. I thought our kids were really locked in energy-wise and execution-wise.”

The Rams’ team play was once again on point, tallying eight assists including several well-executed backdoor plays. Patrick found a cutting Nystrom on a cut for an easy lay-up at the 6:37 mark and then five minutes later Emile Hesseldal found a cutting Nystrom again for a bucket plus the foul with 1:56 left in the third.

It was smooth sailing in the fourth and the Rams never trailed against the Wolfpack while stretching their winning streak to 17, and clinching their third consecutive 20-win season under Williams.

“We’re a consistent program and we’ve just done a nice job of winning a lot of basketball games,” Williams said. “They love to play. They love to play hard. When you put good players on the floor that compete and play as a team successful things are going to happen and that’s what this group is continuing to do.”

CSU continued its trend of shutting down the opponent’s leading scorer, shutting out Nevada’s Nyasha Lesure on 0-of-8 shooting. Lesure came into Saturday’s contest averaging 13.6 points per game. Nevada was held to 37 points, which marks the 12th occasion in 21 games this season where the Rams have held their opponent under 50 points.

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 “It’s a team effort,” Nystrom said. “We have great help defense. We just doubled her (Lesure) so she had a hard time scoring and doing what she wanted to do. We take away what people want to do and make it hard for everybody to score. It’s not just their best player. I think everybody on the teams we play have a hard time scoring. We just buy into that.”

Teige Zeller led Nevada with 14 points as the Wolfpack fell to 4-17 on the year and 3-7 in Mountain West conference play.

CSU will be on the road again on Wednesday night as it travels for an important conference game against Boise State at 7 p.m. MT. The Rams won the previous match-up with the Broncos at Moby Arena 68-64 on Jan.2.  

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