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Colorado State 65 – Cal Poly 63 (Women)

December 22, 2014

Lets flash to the final sequence right away.

With about 25 seconds remaining, the Lady Rams led 65-63. They inbounded the ball to Jamie Patrick who took a couple of dribbles upcourt before being stripped. Cal Poly came away with the ball.

And somehow thew Rams immediately hustled into position to take away any quick look at the basket. A screen at the elbow and penetration into the lane but any look taken away immediately by Ellen Nystrom and Elie Gustavsson. A pass into the corner where the Cal Poly player was shut off by Keyorra Wharry.

The ball came up top to diminutive Cal Poly guard Ariana Elegado. Elegado had already made four three’s on the day and only needed a glimmer of space with range well beyond the arc. CSU’s Hanne Mestdagh was in the area and immediately locked in on Elegado.

The duel continued for a good 5 seconds. Elegado probed, stepped back and probed some more. Mestdagh countered every move. And when Elegado made one final move to create space, Mestdagh stepped in and deflected the ball away. It led to a tie-up with 0.1 seconds on the clock and was game, set, match.

The Rams had come away with a hard fought win.

And they had done it with a squad of only six players!

The All-MWC starting backcourt of Gritt Ryder (hamstring) and AJ Newton (knee) were out. Backup point guard Victoria Wells was out. Big Emilie Hessedahl is still out after suffering an injury several weeks ago.

Six players and no point guards!

The Rams played a bit of rope-a-dope in the first half as they conserved energy by sitting in a 2-3 zone defensively and taking away any transition opportunities for the visitors. They led 32-30.

They picked up the effort in the second half, hitting the glass much harder and diving for loose balls all over the floor. First it was Gustavsson corraling a couple of loose balls, then Wharry diving at mid-court. They were taking over on offense with Jamie Patrick bombing from the outside and Alana Arias scoring on the inside. The lead grew to 12.

A quick TO by Cal Poly and a switch my the visitors from a 2-3 zone to more aggressive man-to-man and suddenly the Lady Rams were on the ropes. A pair of Elegado three-balls had them quickly within 6 and they continued to close the gap until the final minutes.

It took some pretty masterful coaching down the stretch from Ryun WIlliams , some great execution on a play run to Arias for the killer and 1 inside a minute, and then some phenomenal defending in the final seconds.

It was a losable game because of the circumstances. One that became a great squad victory.

Arias and Patrick led the scoring with 17 each. Wharry had 12. Nystrom had 6 points, 7 rebound, and matched her jersey number with 13 assists. Mestdagh had 9 and Gustavsson had 4.

But sometimes it isnt about the numbers. Its about digging in and defending like crazy when the game is on the line.

Other thoughts…

I can guarantee that if the coaches were switched in this game that Cal Poly would have come out ahead. Cal Poly was able to throw 10 players at the short-handed Rams and I’m sure Ryun Williams would have figured out that man-to-man defense would be more effective than zone far sooner than the final 10 minutes.

Gritt Ryder will be back for the start of conference play at the end of the month and Aj Newton will begin practicing soon. Her return will probably be delayed a little. Hessedal will be back shortly as well. The Rams should look like a much different team team when they have a little more depth. Players like Patrick, Wharry, and Arias , all newcomers, and Mestdagh are making tremendous contributions now. The team is in great position to successfully defend their MWC championship. Patrick and Mestdagh are tremendous perimeter threats, Wharry is fantastic at penetrating and scoring in the paint, and Arias is a load in the post.

The Lady Rams finished with an 8-3 OOC record, playing a schedule that has been upgraded over last season. Two of the losses were in OT and will probably mean that they’ll have to win the MWC Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Their RPI is about 120 and it will climb if they play well in conference but probably not enough to earn an at-large bid. Its too early to worry about such things with a conference championship very much in their sights but I thought it would be worth bringing up since that is the ultimate goal of every program.

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