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CSU women’s basketball fights to remain undefeated without starting center

Hannah+Ronsiek+with+possession+against+High+Point+University+Panthers+December+5.+CSU+Rams+win+93-61+against+High+Point+University++Panthers+home+at+Moby+Arena.
Collegian | Grace Goolsby
Hannah Ronsiek with possession against High Point University Panthers December 5. CSU Rams win 93-61 against High Point University Panthers home at Moby Arena.

Basketball is a game of adjustments. 

On and off the court, any number of factors can impact a team’s performance. Injuries, fouls and cold streaks are unavoidable. What defines a truly capable team is if they can adjust, experiment and change to come out with the win. 

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In Colorado State’s 93-61 win over High Point, the demand for adjustment came from injury. The Rams’ starting forward Cali Clark sprained her ankle in CSU’s Thanksgiving win over UTEP Thursday, leaving an absence in the paint that previously almost guaranteed at least double-digit rebounds a night. 

That absence did not go unfilled. The Green and Gold made the needed adjustments to Clark’s absence and dominated in the paint, in addition to the rest of the court, racking up 38 points in the paint, their second most this season, and out-rebounded the Panthers 32 to 26. 

Coach Ryun Williams commended his team for stepping up and making those needed adjustments to get the win.

“I thought the team responded really well,” Williams said. “We’re a little different, I mean Cali’s that force in our lineup and obviously that’s almost 10 rebounds a game that’s sitting there. I thought collectively just as a team, I thought we rebounded at a solid level. We’re obviously going to have to continue to get better there and get everybody in the fight, but our challenge is if you’re averaging two boards a game, can you give us three? Can you get us four?”

Coming off a career-high 25 points against UTEP, Hannah Ronsiek didn’t slow down for a second. She put up 18 points, the second most on the team, and led the squad with eight rebounds. 

Ronsiek said she knew coming into this matchup that her team was missing a key component and she needed to step up to match the presence that Clark brings to games. 

“All throughout practice (Williams) really reiterated how she’s a very big physical presence that’s going to be gone and we were all going to need to step up and get boards,” Ronsiek said. “I just needed to step up and get boards and I thought I executed that well.”

When asked in his post-game press conference on Clark’s injury status, Williams did not have a definitive timeline, but forecasted that the injury will take Clark out of commission for the foreseeable future. 

“The update is just that it’s a bad sprain.” Williams said. “It’s going to be a while. It’s a pretty ornery one it looks like. So we’ll hopefully get her back sooner (rather) than later because she is so important to the growth of our team and we’re at our best when Cali’s at her best.”

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Clark’s perennial one-two punch partner McKenna Hofschild was honored with a ceremonial game ball from CSU Director of Athletics Joe Parker prior to tip-off for breaking Ellen Nystrom’s all-time CSU assist record in the Rams’ win against South Dakota Mines Nov. 21.

Any post-ceremony nerves? Not in the slightest. 

The star guard continued her reign of nearly unstoppable play, posting her third double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 assists. While she was missing her usual dish into the paint, Hofschild found plenty of other players with whom she could share the love. 

Ronsiek, Sanna Ström and Meghan Boyd all had double-digit scoring, collecting 18, 13 and 11 respectively. Combined with Hofschild’s 25, that is the first game of the season in which at least four Rams made it to double digits.

“It’s really nice just to have such a balanced floor presence at all times,” Hofschild said. “I think that’s what we do really well as a team. We just have a lot of weapons that can kind of step up and each night it’s going to be someone different. To have people contributing in different ways (is) very helpful for a point guard and just very helpful for the team.”

With their win over High Point, the Rams advance to 7-0 for the first time since the 2000-01 season. With their first conference game against SDSU coming at the end of December, the Green and Gold continue to prove themselves as a well-rounded squad that can back up their record. 

CSU will head on the road Saturday to face Montana at 7:00 p.m. Dec. 9 at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula. The Grizzlies are 2-2 in non-conference play and rank sixth in the Big Sky Conference.

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

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  • J

    J SolomonDec 6, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    I will never understand why this coach completely abandons offensive rebounds.

    Reply