Utah State leaves Rams seeing red in front of a pinked-out crowd

Luke Zahlmann

This year has been one of growth and change for Ryun Williams’ newfound squad.

After welcoming seven new players this year, including the teams’ second-leading scorer, Mollie Mounsey, the team has struggled in their conference slate. Those woes came to fruition against Utah State on Saturday with the Rams falling once again, 72-53.

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The loss is tied for the second-worst of the year for the Rams and their largest margin in Mountain West play thus far.

With most of their size sapped in recent years, the Rams have struggled to overcome size disadvantages. After scoring the first six points of the game on a perfect 3-for-3 mark from the field, Williams knew the team had a problem once again against Aggies’ big, Hailey Bassett.

“Bassett’s had some really good games this year,” Williams said. “She’s got a big time jump shot… She converted a lot early and they made baskets. If that’s the case, you’ve got to counter on the other end.” 

In her 23 minutes on the floor, Bassett compiled a +/- of +28, the highest tally on the team. In the first half alone, she tallied 14 points and six rebounds, with the Aggies struggling mightily while she was off the floor.

After only five minutes without their big, the visitors ceded 10 of the Rams’ 23 first-half points. In the other 15 minutes of the first two stanzas, the Rams struggled from the field and were out-rebounded 22-8.

“Tough to win when we don’t shoot the ball very well… I thought offensively, we were pretty poor the first half… You gotta score the ball at this level.” Ryun Williams

Despite Bassett’s standing as the third-leading scorer on the team prior to the matchup, she had the largest impact on her team’s points since the visitors’ leading scorer Shannon Dufficy was largely held in check by the Rams.

Averaging 16.4 points in the Aggies’ first 16 games, Dufficy’s scoring average not only led the team but reigned second in the conference. Where the guard instead made her impact for the team was on the boards.

As part of her teams’ 45-20 rebounding edge in the contest, Dufficy contributed 12 to add to her MW-leading 10.2 per game.

“You really have to get engaged and involved on the glass with a team like Utah State,” Williams said. “They’re very talented on the glass with Dufficy and (Bassett), they’ve got bigger, stronger, more athletic bodies than us… They made us look silly on the glass at times.” 

Conversely, the Rams’ leaders, Lore Devos and Mounsey struggled to contribute in any area.

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The pair combined for eight points in the matchup, only six in the first half. In assists and rebounds, the two had a total of only six as well. 

Stepping up on offense instead for the Rams was Grace Colaivalu, one of the team’s few remaining facilitators.

“I’m looked at to be the main facilitator of the team, to bring the spark,” Colaivalu said. “I’m looked (at) to score, so that should be my mindset every game. Tonight I felt like I played a little more like me.” 

The 20 points contributed by the Rams’ guard were not enough as the team trailed for 38:06 of game time, with the deficit reaching 27 at one point.

The scoring mark for Colaivalu breached her season-high of 17 previously set against the University of Denver. 

CSU player shoots
Grace Colaivalu (23) drives to the basket and scores during CSU’s game against Eastern NM November 6th, 2018. The Rams win 72-46 (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

With only 53 points, the Rams lowered their conference-worst season average of 56.6 once again. The struggles came in large part to the second-best scoring defense in the league opposite the hosts.

“Tough to win when we don’t shoot the ball very well,” Williams said. “I thought offensively, we were pretty poor the first half… You gotta score the ball at this level.”

In the end, both Dufficy and Bassett tallied double-doubles with the latter posting 18 points and 12 rebounds. The former accrued 14 points to go with her 12 aforementioned boards. 

The Rams will get a chance to reboot themselves before hosting fellow conference bottom-dwelling Nevada on Wednesday. The team’s matchup with the Wolfpack is set to tip off at 7 p.m.

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