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Colorado State 70 – Illinois State 49 (Women)

November 24, 2014

The first of a Sunday Moby doubleheader for me and the hope that the Rams’ perfect weekend would continue as the Redbirds of Normal, Illinois came a knockin’.

The Rams were without starting guard AJ Newton who had surgery on a leg injury on Friday and the other starting guard, Gritt Ryder, was on the bench recovering from a foot injury she suffered last week against Hawaii.

The Rams handled Illinois State on the road last season pretty handily so it was a bit of a shock when the Lady Redbirds opened the game 5-5 which fueled an early 13-3 lead.  The Rams were plagued by missed shots and turnovers.  At the 14:15 mark Coach Ryun Williams turned to the bench and inserted Ryder into the game.

WIlliams has always talked about Ryder as his Peyton Manning, his quarterback who makes his team go.  And if ever there was a game that proved him right it was this one.

The great Dane made a 3-ball that began the rally, made a driving layup off a faked dribble handoff (one of her signature moves), made another three-ball, and assissted on three layoups by her teammates.  CSU trailed 13-5 when she entered the game and by the time halftime rolled around they led 40-27.

An extended run of 35-14 over those 14 minutes.

And the second half continued much as the first as the Rams extended their lead gradually.  They ended up +10 on the glass and delivered 16 assists against only 11 turnovers.

Ryder finished with 22 points including 6-8 from beyond the arc, Elin Gustavsson had 10 along with 7 rebounds.

A solid win.

Other Thoughts…

Hanne Mestdagh came off the bench and played what I thought was her best game in a Ram uniform.  She was cold from the perimeter, shooting only 2-9, but her work on the defensive end and on the glass was exceptional.  She defended aggressively, forcing several turnovers including one where she nagged the player she was guarding into an undisciplined offensive foul.  Hanne also grabbed 5 rebounds and delivered 2 assists.  Its the kind of play that will be important with AJ Newton expected to be out for a reasonably long period.

Speaking of AJ, the Rams will be challenged to make up for her loss.  A returning senior and 2nd team All MWC player, Newton provides energy, great perimeter shooting, and a fearlessness in a 5 foot nothing package.  There probably isnt one player capable of replacing all of that so it will have to be a collective effort.  Players like Keyorra Wharry, Victoria Wells, Jamie Patrick, and Mestdagh will be asked to pick up the slack.

And finally, it was good to have Gritt Ryder back.  I teased her after the game about her 6-8 performance from beyong the arc saying that she must have used her time out with injury to take a lot of shots.  She told me that it was the opposite.  That she really didnt touch a basketball and didnt do any shooting.  Sounded a lot to me like Coach McElwain  putting Garrett Grayson on a pitch count in practice after his shoulder injury at Boston College.  I told Gritt that if Coach Williams really thinks of her as his quarterback, then he should let her practice less.

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