Rams win late behind clutch shooting from their youngsters

Luke Zahlmann

Lauren Brocke, relegated to the bench as a redshirt freshman, made the most of her 16 minutes against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

After averaging 19.9 minutes prior to the game, Brocke sunk the go-ahead 3-pointer as part of a 3-of-3 shooting night to give the Rams the 52-49 win.

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“(It’s) big to start conference play with a win. We didn’t even play our best game, I think, so we can only get better.”Lore Devos

In a battle of the two lowest-scoring teams in the Mountain West, respective runs in the second half were the determining factor. Early on, CSU’s defense played a large role as well. 

Prior to hosting the Rebels, the Rams sat fifth in the nation in opposing field goal percentage (31.7 percent) and first in the conference in opponent scoring (55.6 points per game).

With two quarters completed, the Rebels had registered a 29.6-percent mark from the field compared to 34.6 percent for the Rams. The disparity led to a two-point lead for the hosts at the half. 

After 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, the Rams had greater ball control in the second half. With their miscues subsided, the hosts rode their leading scorer, Lore Devos, once again.

As part of a 10-0 run late in the third, Devos had a pair of trips to the free-throw line, sinking all four of her attempts. Then, prior to a Rebels timeout that ended the run, Devos drove to the basket once again, this time kicking out to Mollie Mounsey who proceeded to dish it to Brocke for a 3-pointer that awakened the Moby faithful.

“Being a freshman, this being my first conference game, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Brocke said. “Having people like Lore and Tatum who have so many games under their belt out there with me, it helps a ton.”

The spree was the largest scoring run of the contest for the hosts, bringing their lead to four at the conclusion of the third frame.

With the momentum on their side, the Rams stretched their lead to eight two minutes into the fourth, their largest margin of the game. The Rebels stormed back though, riding a run of their own.

Started in the middle of the final quarter, the visitors went on a 12-2 scoring streak over a 5:32 span, with a 7-0 mark prior to the runs’ conclusion.

Ending the Rebels’ late spree at the charity stripe was Devos. After a Rebels foul that pushed the Rams into the bonus, Devos sunk a pair of her nine free throws in the game with 55.6 seconds remaining.

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“(It’s) big to start conference play with a win,” Devos said. “We didn’t even play our best game, I think, so we can only get better.”

In her first game back after being hobbled by an injury, Katie Powell led the Rebels’ late charge, scoring on a fading hook shot to take back the lead after Devos’ free throws.

Brocke came back though, hitting the aforementioned 3-pointer to take the lead and getting the rebound off a Powell miss to set Lore up for a pair of game-clinching free throws.

“I’ve just shot so many 3-pointers in these past couple weeks,” Brocke said. “I just knew that when my time was to come, that I’d be able to step up and knock down that shot. My teammates have so much confidence in me.”

Once picked to finish second in the conference, the loss to begin their conference season was already the 10th overall for the Rebels.

In her return from injury, Powell made a mere 4-of-16 from the field en route to nine points to go with her four rebounds. Keying the teams’ success against one of the conference’s elite bigs was constant pressure from Williams’ squad.

woman shoots basketball
Lore Devos makes a layup during a game against the University of North Florida Ospreys on Dec. 2. (Susie Heath | Collegian)

“We wanted her to catch (the ball) in tough spots,” Williams said. “(We wanted to) make sure everything was contested. She’s arguably the best player in the league offensively and I think the healthier she gets, the better she’s gonna be.”

For the Rams, Devos once again buoyed the offense, scoring 17 points. The latest top-scoring mark was her eighth time this year. 

The Rams will head into their second consecutive conference bout at Moby on Saturday against Fresno State and fellow preseason first-teamer, guard Candice White. Tip-off is slated for shortly after 2 p.m.

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