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McKenna Hofschild lifts team to season-opener win

McKenna+Hofschild+%284%29+sizes+up+a+defender+Nov.+6.+Colorado+State+University+beat+Le+Moyne+College+69-49.
Collegian | Jaiden Stanford
McKenna Hofschild (4) sizes up a defender Nov. 6. Colorado State University beat Le Moyne College 69-49.

Forty-five seconds and a pull-up jumper with nothing but net.

That’s all McKenna Hofschild needed to set the tempo for Colorado State’s 69-49 win against Le Moyne College.

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In typical Hofschild fashion, the reigning Mountain West Player of the Year immediately followed up her jumper with a steal and breakaway layup. She didn’t slow down from there, either. CSU’s star racked up 24 points on the night, with five assists and one steal after 37 minutes on the court.

From that 45 seconds and onward, the Rams grabbed the lead and never looked back, leading by as much as 26 throughout the match. For CSU, the name of the game was getting out the growing pains as soon as possible.

“This is real basketball, and these are real games,” Cali Clark said.”We’re not going against Rams anymore. (Now it’s) competing against other teams on the real court with the lights on and just being ready to go every night.”

Clark was the embodiment of tenacity on both sides of the ball for the Rams. Her 12 rebounds and aggressive play were integral to CSU’s defense holding the Dolphins to 19 of 65 shooting. Her constant fight on the offensive boards gave the Rams additional chances to fight to extend their lead.

Coach Ryun Williams feels that Clark is an essential key behind the Rams’ success, especially the success of Hofschild.

“You know, (Clark excels in) those toughness areas, the rebounding areas, the pressure she puts on the defense, the way she runs the floor — she does a great job of getting McKenna into her ball screen game,” Williams said. “We just don’t know where we would be without her. She’s kind of that toughness we need on the interior.”

The Dolphins certainly felt the constant threat of Meghan Boyd on offense. Boyd’s knockout shooting carried her to 15 points with four 3-pointers. Even when it felt like Le Moyne had Boyd contained at 3-point range, she barreled past the Dolphins’ defenders, netting five field goals in total.

The Rams shot 25 of 60 from the field and nine of 30 from the 3-point line. While the numbers were certainly enough to lift the Rams up to a 20-point win, Williams believes the squad can be much more consistent.

“Our shot making wasn’t as good as probably it normally is, but it’s because we were not in rhythm,” Williams said. “We were out of sync.”

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By halftime, the Rams walked away with a comfortable 17-point lead in spite of occasional offensive droughts. 

When the team entered the locker room, Williams was insistent that his squad not be complacent — they needed to keep fighting in the second half to move past their growing pains.

“I think the biggest part was coming back in the second half and keeping it up — not having those up and down moments,” Boyd said when asked on Williams’ halftime message. “Continuing to attack the basket as well was something we talked about at halftime because I think when we’re getting zoned and stuff, we have a tendency to live and die by the three.”

The biggest hitch in the Rams offense was the presence of Jackie Carman, CSU’s graduate transfer from Wofford. Carman faced huge expectations coming into the season and has so far struggled to fully fit into CSU’s program. 

Williams, however, maintains that Carman is going to be an integral part of their offense once her shots begin to fall.

“(Carman’s) 3s looked good; I mean, she shot them straight, but she was just a little long on it,” Williams said. “I don’t want her to put too much pressure on it. In all honesty, Jackie has been one of our better offensive players in our practices leading up to the start of the season. So she’ll just work through a lot of these early-season kinks, like a lot of players do.”

Williams did feel that Carman’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball affected her play in general, something he hopes to work out of her system as soon as possible. 

“She lets (her performance) affect how she (plays) on the other end,” Williams said. “That’s maybe where she’s got to show just a little more poise. I don’t want her to put too much pressure on it.”

The Rams stay at home for their second game of the season against Alabama A&M at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9 in Moby Arena. The Bulldogs finished 14-15 (12-6 conference) in the 2022-23 season and lost their 2023-34 season opener against UAB 70-63.

Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @willengle44.

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