CSU women’s basketball overcomes early mistakes, extends winning steak

Luke Zahlmann

CSU women’s basketball attacked early and often on their way to a resounding mid-afternoon victory over Morgan State on Thursday, 60-44.

Not known for her sharp shooting, senior Veronika Mirkovic got the Rams scoring started with her early 3-pointer, a slight anomaly in a game that saw the Rams fail to flex their 24th in the nation field goal percentage for much of the contest. 

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CSU Woman's Basketball Head Coach Ryun Williams calls out a play to his team during the first quarter.  (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
CSU Woman’s Basketball Head Coach Ryun Williams calls out a play to his team during the first quarter. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

The first quarter came up roses for the home team as the Rams held the Lady Bears without a point for over half of the opening quarter, led by their forcing of four turnovers. Despite a size disadvantage down low, the Rams were able to keep their offense humming inside the arch, hitting five of their seven field goals inside in the first.

“We saw them on film,” Annie Brady said. “We just knew that we would have to be really aggressive and hold them off, especially because (they were) so big.”

Brady hit her stride in the second quarter, scoring six of her 12 first half points in a short span, to go along with 11 rebounds. Brady stood as the lone player with a first half double-double between the two squads, overcoming a size disadvantage down low to the Lady Bears’ leading rebounder and scorer in senior Lexus Spears.

Coming into the game as the 25th overall team in the nation in turnovers per game, the Rams giveaway minimizing ways were a shell of themselves as the Rams turned the ball over 10 times in the opening half alone. Personal mistakes kept the Rams from stretching their lead in a game where they had a clear skill level advantage, exemplified by their ability to hold the Lady Bears to a mere 19.4 percent from the field total, and 13.3 percent from outside.

“We need to be stronger with the ball,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “It’s not like they pressured us or anything like that, we were just loose and careless with the ball. We’ve got to stop that, it’s gonna cost us a game.”

In a game where the Rams failed to play to their potential, Brady brought a maximum effort mindset once again in a career day. After scoring a previous career-high 21 against UNC and 19 in their most recent game against Prairie View A&M, she was able to push her three-game scoring average to 19.3 a game with an 18-point effort against Morgan State. To go along with her dominance scoring, Brady had a single-game career high in rebounds with 17, a half of the team’s total rebounds (34) on a team-high 36 minutes.

A sidekick on the outside for Brady, redshirt senior Stine Austgulen was the lone Ram to get it going from outside, hitting four of her six attempts to finish with 12 points, the second highest amount for any individual from CSU.

“I just kept shooting it,” Austgulen said. “Last game I didn’t hit that many (shots), my shot was kind of off. It’s been feeling good pretty much all year so I just kept shooting when I was open.”

After scoring a team-high 25 points in their opener, freshman Lore Devos has cooled off considerably for the Rams, playing a mere five minutes in the victory. A constant shuffling among the lineups, Williams has chosen to go experience lately, with four of the starters on Thursday being upperclassmen.

“We’re just shifting to the best group that we think can help us win,” Williams said. “It’s hard being a young player and playing Division I basketball. Usually the maturity and the mind toughness rises to the top and I think that’s kind of what has happened.”

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A dominant conclusion to an otherwise mistake heavy game, the Rams won the final quarter 18-10, limiting the Lady Bears to 22.2 percent from the field in the concluding period.

The Rams will take a three-game winning streak into conference play as they start with a home contest against Boise State. A full week break will allow the Rams to iron out some of their short comings before being faced with the meat of their schedule with two conference home games before hitting the road and heading to the west coast.

Collegian sports reporter Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.