Women’s basketball opens conference play with narrow win

Colorado+State+University+guard+McKenna+Hofschild+%284%29+maneuvers+around+California+State+University%2C+Fresno+defenders+at+Moby+Arena+Dec.+29%2C+2022.+The+Rams+won+64-58%2C+with+Hofschild+contributing+29+points+and+eight+assists.

Collegian | Serena Bettis

Colorado State University guard McKenna Hofschild (4) maneuvers around California State University, Fresno defenders at Moby Arena Dec. 29, 2022. The Rams won 64-58, with Hofschild contributing 29 points and eight assists.

Damon Cook , Staff Reporter

The Colorado State University Rams women’s basketball team took on the California State University, Fresno Bulldogs in their first Mountain West Conference match of the season. The Rams escaped with a win, 64-58. The Rams now sit at 8-4 on the season. 

“We did what we needed to do to get a win. I don’t think that’ll be a problem going throughout the season when push comes to shove, we’ll get those finishes and we’ll knock down those shots.” – McKenna Hofschild, CSU women’s basketball guard

The first half was rough offensively for the Rams. They shot only 34% from the field and 29% from three. The Rams scored 26 points in the first half which marked their lowest first half point total of the season. The Bulldogs gave the Rams an aggressive zone defense and they struggled against it.

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Colorado State University head coach Ryun Williams scowls at a referee during the Rams’ game against the California State University, Fresno Bulldogs at Moby Arena Dec. 29, 2022. CSU won 64-58. (Collegian | Serena Bettis)

“Just a lot of out of sync basketball,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “Maybe expected to be a little bit sluggish but this was a great great win for us.”

While the Rams struggled to find their offense, they played hard on the defensive side of the floor. The Bulldogs were able to shoot 38% from the three point line, but the Rams held them in check inside the arc, where the Bulldogs only shot 31% on 8-26 shooting. The Rams held the Bulldogs to only 25 points, barely leading at halftime. 

“Those are pretty good shots,” Williams said. “When we broke their pressure and we did attack the rim, we had some pretty easy things at the basket. … We’ve gotta finish that.”

The Rams entered the third quarter with more of the same. They were held without a field goal for long stretches and continued with their shooting struggles. However, the Rams backcourt began their takeover scoring, with senior guard McKenna Hofschild grabbing six of the Rams 13 points. 

Colorado state University forward Kendyll Kinzer (0) makes a jump shot against California State University, Fresno at Moby Arena Dec. 29, 2022. The Rams won 64-58 in a close game to open Mountain West Conference play. (Collegian | Serena Bettis)

“We did what we needed to do to get a win,” Hofschild said. “I don’t think that’ll be a problem going throughout the season, when push comes to shove, we’ll get those finishes and we’ll knock down those shots.”

The Rams entered the fourth quarter down by two, but the backcourt take over went into full effect. Hofschild had 14, including three very important three-point baskets and senior guard Destiny Thurman had nine, including hitting four free throws in a row in the clutch to help ice the game. 

“Just got to be aggressive,” Thurman said. “If my shots aren’t falling early I gotta get to that rim and get as close as possible, and even if they aren’t calling fouls, I gotta play through that contact.”

While it was an ugly game for the most part, the Rams figured something out in the fourth, scoring 25 points — more than their second and third quarters combined. The Rams finally started to get to the foul line in the fourth, shooting 11 of their 19 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“We had to keep being aggressive and get to the free throw line,” Thurman said.

While the backcourt for the Rams charged ahead on the offense, junior forward Joseana Vaz got in the trenches and went to work. She had a game high +20; the next highest plus/minus for the game was Destiny Thurman who had a +8. The stat sheet doesn’t do her justice as she came up with two huge stops in crunch time, her first being a forced miss in the fourth and her second a forced turnover that caused the Bulldogs to start fouling the Rams. 

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“We’ve got to get her more minutes,” Williams said. “We’ll evaluate who starts at that spot I think a little more. … Jo is really good.”

The Rams will continue their conference play against the University of Las Vegas, Nevada Rebels on Dec. 31 in Las Vegas. UNLV was voted as the No. 1 team in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason. 

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.