Rams knock off Fresno State behind career night from Kantzy

Colin Barnard

Highlights provided by CTV Sports’ Alexandria Clough 

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Amanda Kantzy’s second-half performance propelled the Rams to a 73-56 victory over Fresno State on Wednesday night.

Ellen Nystrom led all scorers with 20 points and added six rebounds and five assists. But it was Kantzy’s career high 16 points that gave life to the Rams, who struggled to find their touch to start the second half.

CSU led by five at halftime, but quickly found themselves behind after the Bulldogs opened the third quarter on a 13-6 run. With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Kantzy knocked down a mid-range jumper and followed it up with a corner three a few posessions later. With the clock winding down, Kantzy nailed another three to cap off a 13-2 Rams run that gave them the lead they would not relinquish.

“It was really nice,” Kantzy said. “I just tried to relax and just be Amanda. I love to bring energy and passion to the team and that was the only thing I tried to do. Today they went in, and that felt amazing. I just tried to focus on the easy stuff, just take my shots. Coach has told me to shoot them, I just didn’t think. And that’s the key for me, I just need to play and not think so much.”

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Photos by Elliot Jerge | Collegian

 

Her hot stretch carried into the fourth quarter where she made two more three-pointers in the opening minutes, giving the Rams some comfort room for the remainder of the game. All of her 16 points came in a meagre 15 minutes of action. Her performance was a welcome sight for head coach Ryun Williams.

“If you were to walk into the gym before practice or after practice every single day, Amanda is the one getting the most shots up,” Williams said. “It’s difficult to keep ready and stay ready when you’re not called on consistently. So that’s a big time, mature performance by this sophomore right here. I’m more proud of her performance (tonight) than I am of any performance of our kids this season.”

Nystrom praised the performance after the game, as well.

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“She works so, so hard,” Nystrom said. “If she sees that ball go in, I think that gives her confidence and she can keep on shooting. That’s who we want to shoot because that’s a great percentage shot. It was great, both for her and the team.”

The win comes in the midst of another injury-ridden week for the Rams. Sofie Tryggedsson, Jordyn Edwards and Veronika Mirkovic all missed the game with various injuries, forcing Williams to go with seven players until the final minute.

Despite the injuries, the Rams have had players step up in the right time. Last game against New Mexico it was Myanne Hamm and tonight it was Kantzy. Pair that with the leadership of Nystrom and Gustavsson, and the Rams haven’t missed a beat.

“Kids have stepped up,” Williams said. “I think Eli and Ellen have been really good leaders, and they’ve been really solid in their performance. We can count on that every night. We’ve had really good leadership and our kids, we trust them…As a staff, we’re getting more comfortable and confident with everybody in our lineup. So when we get everybody back and healthy, I think this team can really, really go.”

Up next is another home game against Utah State on Saturday Jan. 21.

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