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Short-handed CSU women’s basketball torches Air Force with complimentary play

McKenna+Hofschild+brings+the+ball+to+the+CSU+side+during+the+CSU+vs+AF+womens+basketball+game.+Jan.+17+%28CSU+won+81-67%29
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
McKenna Hofschild brings the ball to the CSU side during the CSU vs AF women’s basketball game. Jan. 17 (CSU won 81-67)

Some things like Colorado State guard McKenna Hofschild having a spectacular scoring night are old. Other things like CSU running a zone defense are brand new.

A big part of Colorado State’s 81-67 win over Air Force came on the defensive side of the ball.

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Running a zone defense is not something that CSU does often. Coach Ryun Williams, by his own accord, is stubborn when it comes to wanting to play man-to-man defense. So you can only imagine the surprise when he told the team that they were going to be running the zone. 

“Unheard of, unheard of,” Hofschild said. “But I will say, we’ve been asking a little bit to play zone, we’ve wanted to try it. So it was kind of fun to try that. I thought we did a pretty good job for that being our first time ever, besides the fourth quarter of the New Mexico game, so that was pretty cool.”

The Rams defense found incredible success against an Air Force team that played them extremely well last season. 

Not only did the Rams end up with seven blocks and six steals out of the zone, they also accomplished an incredible feat by holding Milahnie Perry to just 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

“We were trying to keep a lot of their things at bay,” Williams said. “The biggest thing tonight is we were down (Marta Leimane) and (Hannah) Ronsiek. And McKenna — I thought we were going to get 40 minutes out of her. Luckily we had enough cushion to give her a break here and there.”

Both Ronsiek and Leimane were injured during the Rams win against New Mexico on Jan. 13. Neither warmed up for the game against Air Force, with both players having bandages over their noses.

With two high-contributing players like Ronsiek and Leimane unable to suit up, the way the Rams want to play changes drastically. Fortunately for CSU, things just so happened to fall in the right place.

“Each night is so different,” Williams said. “And I liked how everybody stepped up tonight. I was really pleased with — Jackie (Carman) comes in and really played well. I thought Meghan (Boyd) had some really good stretches. I thought everybody was locked in, so it was an opportunity for kids to get some more minutes and I thought they really performed well. Proud of them for that.” 

The Rams played the perfect complimentary basketball around Hofschild, who once again put on a superstar performance. 

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Night in and night out it has become clear who the best player on the floor is going to be when CSU women’s basketball comes to town. Tying her career high of 37 points and adding eight assists to that, it became obvious early in the game that Wednesday night would be no exception.

“I’m trying not to take anything for granted,” Hofschild said. “I know these games are limited in my career left, so just trying to have with it and not take anything for granted. But also I feel like i’m in a pretty good groove right now and I’m feeling confident in myself and my teammates.”

While Hofschild certainly ran up the score, putting the ball in the basket didn’t come without some push back from the opposition. 

Air Force guard Madison Smith found a career-high in Moby Arena, where she finished the game with a double-double scoring 31 points and grabbing 13 boards.

“I think she’s a great player and she’s got a really big role on her team to create for herself and for other players,” Hofschild said. “So hats off to her, she had a great game, but I don’t let that get to me, I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team in the white.”

While CSU forward Sydney Mech didn’t quite join the party of career-highs, she did find herself with 17 points, a new season high for her. 

What Mech has brought to the team over her years as a Ram cannot be overstated. She has been a crucial piece to the Rams success and has seemingly fit in as the perfect compliment next to Hofschild.  

“That’s one thing I’ve always been trying to work on is finding my shot,” Mech said. “And coach is always yelling at me like ‘shoot the 3’ so I was just letting it go tonight and that’s something for every game I can help my team with.”

Well, Mech’s contributions no doubt were crucial for the short handed Rams.

 Something they will need as they have a tough matchup as they travel to Wyoming in a clash between two of the top things in the Mountain West. Mech will undoubtedly be a crucial piece if the Rams want to avenge their loss in the semi-finals of the Mountain West tournament from a season ago.

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

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About the Contributor
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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