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Rams women’s basketball drop ball in first game of new year

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Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
Colorado State University graduate student Cailyn Crocker shoots the ball for a two-point score in Moby Arena on Nov. 2, 2023.

For many people, celebrating the new year entails watching the classic ball drop and being with friends. For the Rams women’s basketball team however, they rang in the new year on Jan. 6 by playing the conference leaders UNLV in the first match of 2024. The Rams went on to lose 78-83.

Coming off a loss against San Diego State, CSU approached this game against UNLV with a determination for victory. A win in this game would put the Rams 1-1 in conference play, 10-3 on the season, and would prove that the Rams can hang with the best in the conference.

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“It’s kinda been a consistent theme this year, we feel like these are all games we could’ve had,” CSU guard McKenna Hofschild said. “At the end of the day it’s just basketball, there’s gonna be a lot of close games, some you’re gonna win, some you’re gonna lose.”

With several attempts from both sides to score points, the game was over a minute underway before the first points were scored by the Lady Rebels.

Despite trailing for the first couple of minutes the Rams responded quickly with two 3-pointers from Hofschild and guard Hannah Ronsiek. Both sides were putting away points, trading the lead back-and-forth until a six-point run from the Rebels.

“UNLV’s a great team, they’ve been a great team the past couple of years in this conference,” Hofschild said. “We really wanted this one just to prove that we’re up there and we’re not to be messed around.”

Evident in the first quarter was the Rebels’ ability to get the rebound off of missed shots, which put them ahead at the completion of the first quarter. The Rams needed to get shots off, and get the defensive rebounds going into the second quarter.

Something began to click in the Rams overall playing at the beginning of the second quarter as CSU put several shots away, and took the most significant lead all game, of four points.

For the second time in the game, CSU guard Sanna Ström appeared to fall down due to an ankle injury, and had to be helped back into the locker room. The injury from Ström had already put the crowd in a tense mood, but after Hofschild went down too, the tension in the air was palpable.

After a strong line drive from Hofschild, she went down with an apparent knee injury, but was able to walk it off and appeared to be alright; missing her free throw but immediately going back to playing defense. Ström also came back into the game, subbing out CSU forward Cali Clark after an impressive rebound and score from Cailyn Crocker. There was no report of any injuries, and both players continued to play strongly for the rest of the game.

The second quarter was highlighted by impressive plays, worrying fouls and a trailing score but the Rams still stood strong going into halftime. Trailing by two points going into the half, the Rams were looking significantly better in the second quarter and looked to continue that style of play.

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The third quarter started off strong; for the Rebels. Extending a lead during a six-point run, UNLV took off. Hofschild had plenty of opportunities to score, but wasn’t able to put any away, until the eighth minute when she scored a layup during a shifty drive. 

A timeout was called by CSU coach Ryun Williams, after the Rebels had scored three of their last three field goals, a six-point run. The Rams needed to adjust their play quickly as time was quickly running out in the third.

“(UNLV) made big plays, they made big shots, and we had our opportunities,” Williams said. “When it came down to make-miss, they were better in that category.”

Eminem’s Lose Yourself was a very apt song playing in the background after the Rams’ third foul of the game. The Rams didn’t look like the confident team that has been seen before at Moby Arena, and if they wanted to win the game they had to start getting shots off. CSU was simply getting outscored in the third quarter, shooting only 37% compared to the Rebels’ 44%. 

“(UNLV’s) bench is really good, they’ve got seven or eight starters to be honest with you,” Williams said. “But it was nice to get (Cailyn) Crocker going, she needed a game like this.”

Despite the loss, Crocker had one of her best games all season, coming off the bench and scoring 21 points.

Following another timeout from Williams, something lit a fire under the Rams, and the Rams began to put buckets away, but so did the Rebels. There’s a reason that UNLV is the current conference leaders, the Rams were clearly getting outplayed going into the final quarter.

The Ram grit wasn’t shining nearly as bright in the fourth and final quarter, as they trailed by over 10 points.

“All the games we’ve lost this season, except this one, we’ve been ahead in the fourth quarter,” Crocker said. “We just haven’t been able to finish, and I think that’s been big for all of us, we have to finish.”

Fans were getting deja vu to the first quarter, with the lead trading back-and-forth and with the amount of fouls being drawn. It was clear that the Rams weren’t going to go down easy in Moby Arena.

“We’re probably the closest we’ve ever been on this team right now,” Crocker said. “And it sucks that these last two games have been losses, but I’m really happy knowing we’re still okay.”

Even after an impressive fourth quarter, the Rams weren’t able to get the win. Hofschild got a double-double with 34 points and 10 assists, Crocker scored 21 points and had nearly her best game all season. 

“I don’t care who we’re going up against,” Crocker said. “I don’t care who’s in front of us next, it’s gotta be a dub.”

Reach Emma Askren on Twitter at emma_askren or at easkren@collegian.com.

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Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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