Elin Gustavsson leads Rams over San Diego State and into 1st place in the MW

Colin Barnard

On Superhero Day at Moby Arena, Elin Gustavsson certainly came to the Rams’ rescue.

She dominated the game offensively all day long, resulting in a career-high 32 points and 60-43 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs. The scoring outbreak was the third consecutive game in which she has scored at least 20 points. She’s led the Rams (16-5, 8-1 MW) in scoring in each of those outings.

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Gustavsson’s 32 points came on 13-of-21 shooting while the rest of the team combined for 28 points, going just 8-of-27 from the field. Her scoring came in all facets of the offense, including a career-high three makes from three-point range. As she settles into more of a scoring role for the Rams, Gustavsson credits a patient mindset for her success.

“The key was to have a good base and always stay scoring,” Gustavsson said. “I just try to believe in myself. I don’t try to stress every possession, just be patient. I think that’s the key to my performance right now, patience.”

Ellen Nystrom was the only other Ram in double figures with 12 points. Though she didn’t score as prolifically as usual, Nystrom’s biggest contributions came in other aspects of her game. She added seven rebounds and eight assists, many of which went to her Swedish sidekick.

“That’s kind of my playing style, that’s what I love,” Nystrom said. “I mean, most of my assists are to her. It’s always fun and she played great tonight. I know she’s gonna have more nights like this.”

From a developmental standpoint, Gustavsson has come a long way from her less consistent play earlier in the season. Over the last seven games, Gustavsson has averaged 21 points per game and led the team in scoring four times.

“Her growth here is absolutely amazing,” Williams said. “That performance tonight is big time. But if you remember what she was like as a freshman, and the skill-set she has now. I mean, this kid has really put in the time and I’m just proud of the growth.”

The Aztecs kept things close for the majority of the game until a Ryun Williams timeout at the 5:59 mark of the fourth quarter allowed his team to pull away. They came out of the timeout with ferocity and outscored the Aztecs 15-7 for the remainder of the game.

After limiting San Jose State’s Dezz Ramos, the conference’s leading scorer, last time out, the Rams once again stymied one of the best scorers in the conference. San Diego State’s McKynzie Fort came into the game averaging 16.8 points per game, good for second best in the conference. The Rams’ zone defense forced her into uncomfortable shots all game as she scored just nine points while going 4-of-15 from the field.

“Sometimes we can get really sensitive when we don’t score the ball, and that can trigger to the defensive end,” Williams said. “(Today) We just kept grinding. We’d go empty on five, six possessions in a row, but we kept guarding. That shows the toughness and maturity of our kids. That’s how you win basketball games.”

Now in sole possession of first place in the Mountain West, the Rams get ready for a revenge game against Boise State. The Broncos are the only team to beat the Rams in conference play this year and are currently fifth in the conference.

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The game will tip at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Feb. 1 in Boise.

Collegian sports reporter Colin Barnard can be reached vie email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_