CSU continues to fall prey to conference foe’s game plan of pressure

Luke Zahlmann

In a year of constant change due to injuries and a roster overhaul, Colorado State has faced a common foe for much of the year: various alternations of press defense.

The trend continued for the Rams as they hosted the Nevada Wolfpack Wednesday night, falling prey once again to their woes in the face of pressure, 62-38.

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“We’re gonna see (press defense), just that disruption,” Coach Ryun Williams said. “It didn’t keep us from getting good shots … we’ve gotta convert.” 

Hinderances against the Rams’ success on offense have been multi-dimensional. The lack of a facilitating guard, a mass amount of players relegated to the bench by injury or transfer rules and missing open looks have all played a role.

With no imminent aid, Williams has been forced to accept the lulls.

“Experience is so key,” Williams said. “This group is learning experience through making a lot of mistakes, that’s just the way it is. You think (other teams) are feeling sorry for us? No. Everybody is lined up to run at us right now.” 

After multiple years of being among the frontrunners of the conference, Williams has seen the proverbial target on the team’s back. 

“We’ve won a lot of games in this league over the last five years,” Williams said. “They sense that there’s some vulnerability and they’re gonna be lined up. We’ve gotta figure this out and get more competitive.” 

After heading into the second quarter tied at 15 apiece, the Rams accrued only five points in the subsequent period. The culprit was once again a lack of efficiency with the Rams shooting only 15.4 percent in the frame.

The figure was a far cry from their already seventh-place percentage on the year (38.9) and gave the team a 32-percent mark from the field in the game’s first 20 minutes.

Among the rubble prior to the intermission, Mollie Mounsey once again encountered a spree of misses, failing to convert a single one of her eight first-half attempts.

The lack of production from the field for Mounsey was accompanied by six misses from outside the arc, putting the guard on pace for her third scoreless game from outside in the team’s last quarter of games.

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With their second-highest scorer held without a point, the Rams trailed 27-20 at the half. 

Out of the break, the Wolfpack once again played in the back pocket of the Rams’ ball handlers all the way up the court.

After the pressure yielded seven forced turnovers for the visitors in the first half, the team stuck to their plan, forcing six more in the final pair of quarters, equaling the Rams average on the year. 

Despite the losses of possession, Williams couldn’t help but qualm over the missed looks from the Rams scorers. 

“We haven’t had this good of looks in four games,” Williams said. “We should’ve probably scored 70-plus points tonight with the shots that we got … We had two starters go 1-17 combined, you’re not gonna win those games.” 

The final straw for Williams’ squad came in the face of a rare moment of limited pressure.

After drawing a foul, Grace Colaivalu tossed an inbounds pass to Lena Svanholm without a Wolfpack defender within several feet. The Rams’ center went in for the layup, missing with only a slight graze of the rim.

On the next possession, Leah Davis missed a layup in identical fashion, once again hardly contested.

“We missed 11 layups,” Williams said. “That’s 22 points, you can’t leave that off the scoreboard. Some kids have some tough nights shooting the ball.” 

The misses, which could’ve shortened the margin to 15, showed a team grasping for answers at the hoop, down 44-25 as the third period drew to a close.

“You can’t let (misses) snowball. If you miss one, don’t think about it,” Myanne Hamm said. “We kind of felt those (misses) and weren’t thinking next play as much.” 

A lack of success at the rim with wide-open looks also resulted in a second-consecutive period with single-digit scoring (8), ensuring the game was concluded prior to the final whistle.

In the end, eight separate Nevada players scored with three in double figures a direct juxtaposition of a Rams squad with only one over the decade mark. 

The Rams will head to the west coast for a Saturday bout with Fresno State and Preseason All-MW selection Candice White. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. as Wiliams’ squad will look to limit White after allowing 28 points from the guard in the two team’s first meeting.

“We’re gonna figure out how to put ourselves in the best position to compete and win,” Williams said. “This baby is over … We’re gonna get our group together tomorrow and this is how we’re gonna beat Fresno. That’s gotta be our mindset.” 

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