Takeaways: Loss to Gonzaga shows reasons for optimism for CSU

Mack Beaulieu

Going up against a strong Gonzaga University team, Colorado State played well for three quarters but had another horrid shooting stretch and ended up falling 50-39 to the Zags.

The game repeated the same questions CSU has had so far, along with the shooting the Rams had 17 turnovers and were outrebounded by an athletic Gonzaga team, but there were reasons for optimism. If not for the third quarter shooting, this might have been a winnable game against a 7-1 team who’s only lost to No. 2 Notre Dame.

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“We just have to have some kids step up and make some shots. And they’re capable. They really, really are.”Ryun Williams

The Rams’ maturation is coming along

There’s no doubt there’s some inexperience on this years’ team, both on the college level and in playing with each other. A rash of transfers and redshirts has this team still finding itself, but some things are getting better. The Rams went into a big-time atmosphere, with Gonzaga averaging over 5000 in attendance, against a more athletic team and they fought till the end. After a miserable third quarter, the Rams regrouped.

“They’re just disruptive with their on-ball pressure,” Coach Ryun Williams said. “They’re a little quicker and a little athletic and we’ve got some kids who just fold like a chair when they see that, but I was really proud of how we battled and our shot selection was pretty darn good.”

Improved shooting could offset rebounding

The Rams were outrebounded once again in this game, but only by a margin of two. At one point in the second quarter, it was as many as seven. However, even with those extra possessions and the Zags knocking down some threes, the Rams were only behind by nine at the half.

A number of zone teams have trouble rebounding without a dominant rebounder in the middle because it allows teams to pull the defense out or to a given side. That, of course, leads to more offensive rebounds for their opponents. If redshirt sophomore Liah Davis, who only played five minutes after a dominant 10 minutes against Cornell, can come back to full health, that should be less of a problem for the Rams. 

CSU player shoot
Lore Devos (35) pulls up, shoots, and scores during CSU’s game vs Eastern NM on November 6th 2018. The Rams win 72-46(Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

For now, with an already dominant defense, the Rams can offset that with shooting to stay within striking distance. Coming into the game, the Rams held opponents to 29.6% shooting. That’s the equivalent of the sixth-worst team shooting percentage in the NCAA.

This team doesn’t shoot a good percentage, but the ice cold third and fourth quarters they’ve experienced might still prove to be anomalies. The Rams went 1-13 in the third quarter against the Zags and have already had two other games with similar stretches. If the Rams manage to do that consistently over the season, they’ll be defying the law of averages.

“If we hadn’t have had such a dry third quarter,” Williams said. “We just have these stretches where we don’t score for a quarter. It’s embarrassing, but we just have to have some kids step up and make some shots. And they’re capable. They really, really are.”

Mack Beaulieu is a reporter for the Collegian and can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Mack_Covers