Sun Devils find their spark early, rout the Rams in matinee matchup

Luke Zahlmann

The last time Colorado State played a ranked opponent, leading-scorer Lore Devos and 10 other Rams’ players weren’t even on campus yet.

In their first matchup against a top-25 opponent since 2016, the Rams were encompassed in No. 17 Arizona State’s hot streak, falling by their widest margin of the year, 70-39.

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“I don’t think we tried to think about (them being ranked),” Mollie Mounsey said. “We just wanted to come in here and play like it was another game. We didn’t look at the (ranking) in front of them.” 

Normally a key to their success under Coach Ryun Williams, the Rams’ defense faltered early and often against the Sun Devils. After an opening possession 3-pointer, the visitors tallied 21 more points in the first quarter alone. The 24-point tally in the opening frame was the most the Rams have given up in a single quarter this year.

The lopsided quarter came to fruition due to a 55.6-percent mark from the field and a 4-8 tally from outside from the Sun Devils, nary a turnover. Courtney Ekmark led the way with nine points, on pace to break her career-high mark of 23 by double digits.

As a team, the Sun Devils assisted on each of their 16 field goals in the opening half. The facilitating spree for the team lasted until the 3:22 mark in the third quarter after reaching 20-straight assisted field goals. The Sun Devils concluded the game with 26 assists on their 28-made baskets.

The high assist percentage came as the Rams only registered six assists of their own on 17 made field goals.

Another new wrinkle the Sun Devils posed was that of drastic lineup substitutions. As a team, each of the visitors’ substitutions featured multiple players, with the majority being either four or five players at a time. In all, every Sun Devil on the roster received playing time in the rout.

Colorado State Rams women’s basketball team lost to the Arizona State Sun Devils 70-30 Sunday afternoon. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

“That’s how they play,” Williams said. “We were eight (players) deep today so we anticipated that we were gonna be gassed, but I didn’t think we would get gassed so early in the game. We moved slow today.”

The lack of players was once again due to injury as Grace Colaivalu was the latest Ram to reserve a spot in the trainers’ room. 

On the other end, the Rams’ offense was once again flummoxed. Coming into the game, across an eight-game schedule that included a pair of top-five opponents, the Sun Devils were allowing a mere 54 points per game.

Against the Rams, the Sun Devils once again flexed their meddle. Whether it was designed plays, transition or even free-flowing offense, the visitors stopped it all, even showing a full-court press to begin the contest.

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On top of the high-level defense posted by their PAC-12 foe, the Rams’ lack of familiarity was exemplified once more.

With two of their five starters and exactly half of their roster posing as new faces for the Rams, the chemistry has been inconsistent. After the team’s resounding win over Northern Arizona, those problems appeared to be in the past.

“We’ve got to be ready from the start,” Lena Svanholm said. “There’s so many things that just have to flow. We have to step up on defense, we have to make things work on offense, we can’t turn the ball over. In a game like this, all the small details (are) important.” 

In the end, the Rams tallied a season-low 39 points in the games’ entirety. From the field, the hosts accumulated a 33.3-percent shooting mark, with only three made field goals from outside.

With an apparent talent disparity, the results were mildly expected, but not the moments that played into the lopsided tally.

“We should’ve scored more points,” Williams said. “We probably weren’t gonna win the game playing the way we did today but we could’ve played a lot better… Let’s face it, they’ve got better players than we do.”

The Rams will now have a six-day hiatus before their next matchup against Brigham Young on Saturday. The game against the Cougars is set to tip off at 2 p.m. 

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