CSU’s six-game win streak snapped in overtime loss to Fresno State

Christian Hedrick

The Colorado State women’s basketball team (18-8, 10-5 Mountain West) and Fresno State (16-10, 11-4) exchanged the lead eight times on Saturday afternoon, before Candice White and the Bulldogs pulled away in overtime for a 75-64 win at Moby Arena, snapping the Rams’ win streak at six.

“(We) just didn’t play as well as we had been playing for a lot of that basketball game,” head coach Ryun Williams said after the loss. “This is a tough one. We obviously needed to play better, but this is a hard one.”

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Sporting pink breast cancer awareness uniforms, the Rams came out ice cold offensively in their first game off the bye week. Though CSU head coach Ryun Williams dismissed the extra time off as playing a factor in the Rams’ shoddy shooting, CSU could not corral the offensive efficiency that helped the Rams to six straight wins.

Coming into Saturday afternoon’s contest averaging over 19 points and eight rebounds over her last six games, guard Hannah Tvrdy posted just four points on 2-16 shooting from the field. As a team, the Rams shot 33 percent from the field and converted on just nine of their season-high 33 attempts from deep.

“We’ll take those 3s a lot, but we just had some tough shooting nights tonight, we really did,” Williams said.

Before shooting woes hamstrung the Rams, redshirt freshman Grace Colaivalu gave the CSU offense a jolt off the bench with a quick feed to an open Stine Austgulen on her first offensive possession. Austgulen finished the quarter 2-3 from deep, tallying nine of the Rams’ 11 first quarter points.

Compounding the Rams’ offensive urgency, Mountain West leading scorer Candice White found her scoring stride in the second frame after tallying just a pair in the first. Burrowing holes in the CSU defense with crisp passing across the perimeter, White brought the Bulldogs lead to a regulation-high nine with a deep jumper at the six- minute mark of the second. White finished the contest with a game-high 29 points.

“She’s (White) the best player in the league with the ball in her hands,” Williams said. “She’s so smart. We were really soft on our switches. We didn’t switch to the level very well tonight at all, so her step back three wasn’t contested at all.”

After a trademark step back 3 from White in the waning minutes of the half, Austgulen cut the home team’s deficit to five at the break with a pair of made free throws.

Despite a cold half from the field, the Rams came out for the third firing. Austgulen, Jordyn Edwards and Sofie Tryggedsson converted from deep on three consecutive possessions to guide the Rams on an 11-0 run and to their first lead of the game at 35-33.

While the CSU defense held White and the Bulldogs to just 10 third quarter points, the Rams posted a three-point lead entering the fourth. White and the Bulldogs extended their lead to six points, before Colaivalu came off the bench to provide the Rams with another late-game spark.

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With three minutes remaining, Colaivalu nailed a deep jumper and stuffed Kristina Cavey on the ensuing defensive possession. Colaivalu then sunk the Rams’ next six points, highlighted by a layup to tie the game with one second remaining in regulation.

“I was just doing anything I can to help our team win,” Colaivalu said.

Though the Rams finished regulation erasing a six-point fourth quarter deficit, White and the Bulldogs took over in the extra frame. Following a Tryggedsson 3-ball to put the Rams up by a score, the Bulldogs scored 10 unanswered and pulled away with the 75-64 win. White scored 12 of her 29 points in the five-minute overtime period.

“The most disappointing thing of overtime was that we let her (White) get into her game,” Williams said. “She’s really good. Defensively, we could have competed better on the ball.”

Although the loss places CSU in a tricky uphill battle for another regular season Mountain West title, it feels the same as any other.

“It’s tough, but I think every loss is tough,” Austgulen said. “We don’t really look at the records to be honest with you.”

The Rams head up to Boise for a Wednesday night showdown with Boise State beginning at 7 p.m.

Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.