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Colorado State 71 – Boise State 51 (Women)

February 20, 2014

A late season match up between #1 and #2 with the conference title pretty much on the line. Because of unbalanced conference scheduling, it was the only regular season between the two teams, making it a very important game for tie-breaking reasons.

And even better, it was a match-up of two teams having fairy tale conference seasons. The Lady Rams had been picked 7th in the pre-season poll and the Lady Broncos had been picked 8th.

The Rams got off to a jittery start and quickly fell behind 11-2 as they missed numerous shots and turned the ball over. And things didn’t look so great when leading scorer Sam Martin went to the bench with two fouls after only 8 minutes.

On came Emilie Hesseldahl, a freshman center. And the Rams switched from their trademark 2-3 zone defense to their man D. They gained some traction with a pair of Gritt Ryder elbow jumpers, and starting turning Boise over on what seemed almost every possession. A 13-0 run put them into the lead at 17-13 and then another 9-0 run sent them into the locker room leading 26-17.

Boise made an early run to begin the second half, cutting the Rams’ lead to 3. False hopes. Caitlin Duffy and Alicia Nichols both took turns burying big shots and when diminutive guard AJ Newton buried her 3rd three-ball of the half, the Rams were home free.

They had stepped up and delivered a famous road win with the conference title on the time. And they did it their way with balanced scoring and stifling defense, holding Boise nearly 25 points under their home MWC scoring average.

More thoughts…

There was no better player on the floor last night than the Rams freshman Ellen Nystrom. The box score shows her with 9 points and 7 rebounds. What the box score doesn’t show you is that she held Boise’s Deanna Weaver to 2 points on 1-7 shooting. Weaver was Boise’s leading scorer coming in and had scored 33 in her last game. Nystrom harassed Weaver into turnovers and forced shots.

Caitlin Duffy, Alicia Nichols, and Emile Hesseldahl came off the bench and combined for 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and only 1 turnover.
Duffy is the obvious choice as the MWC 6th Man of the Year, as she comes off the bench to score in double digits. If they gave 7th and 8th man awards, both Nichols and Hesseldahl would be leaders.

The beauty of this team is that they don’t skip a beat when starters are on the bench.

The Rams moved their conference record to 13-1 and hold a 3.5 game lead over Boise and 4.5 game leads over Fresno and Wyoming. With 4 games left it’s still mathematically possible they could be caught but I think I heard the Fat Lady warming up her vocal chords, especially after Fresno beat Wyoming last night.

A win in Laramie on Saturday would clinch the conference title for the Lady Rams. That will be a tall order as the Cowgirls have yet to lose a conference road game and they have been traditionally tough on the Rams.

But how nice would it be for the Rams to wrap up a title in Laramie against their bitter rivals. And for their head coach Ryun Williams who grew up in Gillette. Or for their assistant coach Chad Lavin who formerly coached the Cowgirls.

one final thought…

Said by Boise State Head Coach Gordie Presnell when asked about the Rams switch from their 2-3 zone to man defense after the game:

“I told our team, ‘that’s a sign we’re doing great, they’re getting out of their stuff,’ and then they just killed us with it,” Presnell said.

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