CSU claws their way to victory over Air Force

Sergio Santistevan

If all good things must come to an end, the same must hold true for bad things.

Lore Devos shoots over an Air Force defender during the game Feb. 2. The Rams beat the Falcons 55-48. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

After dropping their 13-game winning streak against Air Force Academy earlier this season, CSU got revenge over their in-state rivals and in the process ended their more recent seven-game losing streak to improve to 8-12 (2-7) on the season.

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The Rams went into the matchup playing without redshirt sophomore and starting guard Grace Colaivalu, so other players were tasked with ball-handling duties against a tough defensive-pressure team in the Falcons.

“I would have rather played any team today other than Air Force because their pressure is so relentless,” Head Coach Ryun Williams said. “Mollie (Mounsey) and Lore (Devos) were tremendous handling the ball.”

CSU struggled from the early jump to gain any sort of momentum on offense. The Rams had several turnovers in the first few minutes to put them in a situation they’ve grown familiar with this season: overcoming an early deficit. The offense continued to fall stagnant throughout the opening quarter as the Rams ended on a 3:36 scoring drought, making one of their last eight field goals.

Going into the second quarter, the Rams defense remained superb as the offense looked to find their stroke. Fortunately, the rhythm was found and the offense built an 8-0 scoring run to cut the Falcons lead. CSU’s defense held the Falcons to a whopping 28.6 field goal percentage in the quarter.

Tatum Neubert jumps up to block and Air Force offenders shot during the game Feb. 2. The Rams beat the Falcons 55-48. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Williams said that the team was a lot more active on the defensive side compared to their last matchup with the Falcons, where their zone coverage wasn’t as intense. After shooting 21.4 percent in the first quarter, the Rams improved their percentage in the second to an impressive 50 percent behind Devos’ efforts in the paint, and went into halftime trailing by only two.

The Rams’ defense continued their dominance in the third quarter by holding the Falcons scoreless for nearly five minutes of action. Despite gaining the lead in the quarter, the Rams still trailed going into the final ten minutes.

In the fourth quarter, the Rams started to fire on all cylinders. CSU went on a 13-0 run and forced Air Force to take outside shots to build a seven-point lead with a little under four minutes remaining. The Falcons were able to shrink the lead to two, but the Rams never folded in the final minute.

“We just needed a win. We were desperate for a win,” Williams said. “We asked the kids just whatever it takes, find a way.”

Guard/Forward Myanne Hamm was tremendous in the matchup and didn’t allow anything easy to go through the Rams defense as she totaled eight steals and nine points.

Devos continued her success this season by adding 17 points and seven rebounds.

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Tatum Neubert totaled a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, along with a perfect free throw percentage.

CSU has now won 14 of the last 15 matchups against the Falcons, but more importantly they have gained some momentum going forward. 

“I think our team has showed great character in clawing and trying to move the needle and continue to get better,” Williams said. “Although they might think the mountain that they are climbing is made of sand and they aren’t going that far, they are making some progress.”

The Rams will look to continue to climb that mountain Wednesday against the University of Nevada, Reno. The game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.

Sergio Santistevan can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.