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CSU women’s basketball gets revenge in nail-biter Border War

Cailyn+Crocker+gains+possession+of+the+ball+during+the+Colorado+State+University+basketball+game+against+the+University+of+Wyoming+Feb.+17.+CSU+won+75-70.
Collegian | Ava Puglisi
Cailyn Crocker gains possession of the ball during the Colorado State University basketball game against the University of Wyoming Feb. 17. CSU won 75-70.

They might not have won the last battle, but solidified their lead by winning the second game of the Border War.

Saturday’s first double-header game at Moby was Colorado State women’s basketball against Wyoming. CSU came away with a win of 75-70, but it wasn’t easy.

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After all, the last time women’s basketball played against Wyoming was in Laramie, Wyoming. They lost 67-63 as the Cowgirls took the lead in the fourth quarter. But this type of playing was mirrored today in Moby as the Rams scored 26 points just in the fourth quarter.

“We did let (Tess) Barnes and (Emily) Mellema go crazy in that third, but we won the fourth quarter,” coach Ryun Williams said. “We had a 26-point fourth quarter. So kind of the opposite of how it went in Laramie, where Wyoming really got after us in the fourth.”

But the person scoring the points wasn’t the usual suspect for the Rams. Hannah Ronsiek notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds and was on fire, going 6-of-8 from the field. Despite getting into some foul trouble in the third quarter, her impact on the game was crucial.

However, that trouble in the third didn’t deter her from scoring six points to close out the game.

“I was really excited,” Ronsiek said. “Because I was like, ‘We kind of got this game in the bag. We got this under control if we just keep up this momentum.’”

Momentum indeed. The ebbs and flows of the game kept the crowd on their feet until the very end. Ram fans hoped to sustain a lead, but for the many Wyoming fans, it was hopes of overcoming the border rivals.

Wyoming kept a slow and steady trail behind the Rams for the first two quarters, blocking their shots and overcoming their defense at the basket until they had a lead by scoring four field goals in a row.

“We had come into the third quarter up, and then the game totally shifted,” Ronsiek said. “We had been in that situation so many times before where we kind of let teams bring it to us, and we just decided that that was not going to happen in this game. So I think that’s where the energy shifted.”

That energy shift is vital; after all, this three-game stretch of New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming is the Rams’ most demanding all season. UNLV at No. 1 in the conference, New Mexico at No. 2 and Wyoming at No. 3 prepare No. 7 CSU for the kind of play they look toward at the Mountain West Championship four games from now.

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Not only did the energy shift, but the way the offense operated was a far cry from their usual scoring methods. McKenna Hofschild herself did not score until the third quarter, helping out instead through 13 assists.

“We kind of change their flow and motion,” guard Marta Leimane said. “McKenna still gets her drives, she kicks it out more and we get longer possessions, and I think it’s really good for our offense.”

Playing with new approaches to getting through Wyoming’s defense and a new offensive outlook, the Rams will start to ramp up toward the Mountain West Championship, closing out the tough three-game stretch with a win.

This monumental border war win for CSU started the double-header off with a bang, as Saturday at Moby Arena continued to the men’s game against Utah State.

“Saturdays in Moby are really special,” coach Williams said. “This was the last Saturday for us this year in Moby, and … (I’m) just really proud of this effort, and it involved everybody. Everybody impacted the game on both ends of the floor at really important times during the second half.”

Reach Liv Sewell at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Liv_sewell22

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