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Rams show out, get gritty win over UNM in front of CSU legends

McKenna+Hofschild%2C+guard+for+the+Rams%2C+commands+the+court+during+the+CSU+vs.+HPU+Game+December+5.+Prior+to+the+game%2C+Hoffschild+was+honored+as+CSU+Women%E2%80%99s+New+All+Time+Assist+Leader%2C+presented+by+Joe+Parker.+
Collegian | Grace Goolsby
McKenna Hofschild, guard for the Rams, commands the court during the CSU vs. HPU Game December 5. Prior to the game, Hoffschild was honored as CSU Women’s New All Time Assist Leader, presented by Joe Parker.

Becky Hammon, Katie Cronin and McKenna Hofschild: three of the greatest to ever play at Colorado State. 

It also just so happened that all three were in attendance in the Rams 61-55 grind-it-out win over New Mexico.  

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Well the Rams grit-and-grind type of play and attitude wasn’t lost on Hammon, a CSU legend who knows a thing-or-two about basketball. 

Despite all of her incredible accomplishments, the 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year and the back-to-back WNBA finals champion, didn’t forget the impact that Fort Collins, Colorado had on her. 

“I had so many teammates who did not like their college experience,” Hammon said. “And I was like shoot, pay me to go back to 1998-99, pay me to go back there I would in a second. Because we had so much fun, the community was so amazing with the support that they had for us.”

Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest win, but sometimes those are the wins that feel the best.

“I think this is probably my favorite win,” Hofschild said. “Maybe the ugliest win, but it’s my favorite win of the season. There was a lot of different things that happen, that usually don’t happen in a basketball game and we still got it done.”

Part of the unusualness happened when Hofschild got her third foul, sending her to the bench. Shortly thereafter CSU guard Hannah Ronsiek got an elbow to the face that took her down and just a little while later Marta Leimane took a hard fall and also had to go to the bench. 

That left only one other person on the Rams who had experience running the point. Despite not playing point in maybe over five months, you wouldn’t know it watching Sanna Ström run the offense during parts of the game. 

“Sanna did play some point for us in Spain thank goodness,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said. “She’s lying when she said it’s been four, or five weeks ago. No, no, it’s been four months ago. We won that game with — our starting quarterback goes down, our second-string quarterback goes down, our third-string quarterback is in the game, but our third-string quarterback is a linebacker.”

Well, Ström sure put on a show for quite the audience and her show was dazzling. 

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Ending her night with nine points, two rebounds and two assists, Ström was a crucial piece in the Rams win. Most of her production came in the third quarter where she and Hofschild elevated each other. Of the 16 points the Rams scored in the third, 14 came from Ström and Hofschild, with each scoring seven. 

“I think it’s really good of us,” Ström said. “And that’s what you’ve got to do every game and we faced some challenges that we haven’t faced before. But honestly I thought it was fun to run the point.”

Thanks to the amazing play from the Rams guards, CSU completely shut down the disaster that seemed to be at bay after a woeful second quarter. 

Scoring only four points on 2-of-17 — only getting to four on a break-away layup — the Rams seemed poised to blow their incredible 21-9 start. Yet despite the tough end to the first half, the Rams locker room remained in high spirits.

“It was good,” Hofschild said. “It was positive, I think we were really happy with our defensive efforts. I think they had 18 points at half and so we were really happy about that. And then I think we just kept saying ‘hey, we’re getting shots, just be confident, step up, knock them down and we’ll be good.’ The locker room was just kind of trying to be very encouraging. We’re doing great on the defensive end, now we’re going to get our offense flowing, it’s just a matter of time.”

While the Rams offense did eventually find some ground to grasp onto, the game really boiled down to who had the best player on the floor. Making that crystal clear tonight was the game-leading 23 points and six assists that Hofschild put up.

While a lot of the other players for CSU didn’t have great nights shooting the basketball, with Sydney Mech being the only other Ram in double-figures. The Rams energy remained intact, sometimes the shots don’t fall — as happens in basketball — but the good teams figure out how to supplement ways to win when that happens.

“It just speaks to the leadership, it speaks to the camaraderie, it speaks that they want this as a team,” Williams said. “And that was their message that they were communicating to each other in timeouts. At one timeout McKenna all she said is ‘nobody’s smiling, nobody’s smiling, nobody’s smiling. Smile, Smile, Smile’ and I’m like ‘hit a shot, hit a shot, hit a shot.’ I thought that was really good and sometimes you just got to take a deep breath, chill out, it’s a basketball game.”

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

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Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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