Conference-leading Fresno team dominates Rams 79-61

Bailey Shepherd

After suffering a heartbreakingly close loss to Fresno State two weeks ago, the Colorado State women’s basketball team hosted the Bulldogs for their second match against the conference leaders on Wednesday. Unfortunately the outcome didn’t change, and the Rams endured a 79-61 loss at Moby Arena.

The Rams looked fired up and ready to play early on. Junior forward Jamie Bonnarens went a perfect 3-3 from the floor in the first frame, including one bucket from deep that opened the scoring for the Rams. Disciplined defense around the perimeter proved key early on, as CSU only allowed one shot out of six from deep to find the target. 

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Coming into the game, the Rams looked set on stopping the Fresno guard duo of twins Hanna and Haley Cavinder, with the latter sister coming off of a season-high 31 points against New Mexico. The Rams did well keeping them quiet early on, only allowing them to score a combined two points in the first quarter.

Although the Rams took a four point advantage heading into the second frame, Fresno bounced back in emphatic fashion in the second quarter of play. The Bulldogs showcased their trademark high-press defensive style, forcing the Rams to turn the ball over five times in the second period. Twelve of Fresno’s 29 second-quarter points came directly off of those turnovers.

The Rams had no answer, shooting only 20% from the field in the second quarter, while the Bulldogs connected on 12 of their 22 shots, including an impressive 66.7% from deep to take a 42-24 lead into halftime.

“Our energy just kind of plummeted,” Bonnarens said on the difference between the opening quarters. “Especially on defense, we weren’t talking as much. We weren’t as active, and that played a big part in it.”

Bulldogs guard Aly Gamez was Fresno’s top contributor in the half, pouring in an impressive 17 first-half points, missing only one of her eight field goal attempts in the first half. Haley Cavinder hauled in an impressive 10 first-half boards to cement the lead for the Bulldogs.

Fresno picked up right where they left off in the second half. Haley Cavinder connected from deep with a dagger of a 3-point shot in the opening seconds of the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Rams’ offensive and defensive struggles persisted, as CSU was only able to connect on 34.1% of their shots in the second half.

The Bulldogs closed the game out in a domineering fashion, boasting a 48% shooting percentage in the second half while shooting 70% from behind the arc to hand the Rams a 79-61 loss.

“We needed a more prideful effort,” head coach Ryun Williams said after the team’s loss. “We just have to have more conviction in what we do. We got to break it to get a good shot, break it to score, shoot to make it.”

With this win, Fresno State remains unbeaten in conference play, improving to 12-0 in the Mountain West. The Bulldogs sit at the top of the conference with an overall record of 19-4.

With six conference games remaining, the Rams will have to drastically improve their offensive potency to preserve their chance of making it into the conference tournament, and with CSU’s next test coming against bottom-of-the-conference Utah State on Feb. 12, the Rams seem to have the perfect opportunity to get some momentum going.

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Bailey Shepherd can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @B_Sheps.