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Colorado State 67 – Wyoming 58 (Women)

February 5, 2015

Another edition of the Border War between these two programs. Another ho-hum victory for the Lady Rams.

Not really.

It was anything but ho-hum.

The Cowgirls were looking to avenge a defeat in Laramie earlier in the season when they fell behind big early and clawed their way nearly all the way back.

The Rams were coming off a tough road loss at Fresno State on Saturday and were looking to get back on track against their bitter rivals.

And early on it looked to be Wyoming that was more ready to play as the Cowgirls made 5 or their first 6 shots on their way to a 12-5 lead that had CSU coach Ryun WIlliams calling an early timeout. Another Poke bucket after the timeout pushed the lead to 14-5.

An AJ Newton 3-ball and a Gritt Ryder jumper brought the Rams to within 14-10. And then freshman big Emilie Hesseldal singlehandedly pushed the Rams into a lead they would never relinquish, scoring 6 straight and then assisting on an Elie Gustavsson three-ball to put the Rams in front 19-14.

They would go on to extend the lead to 33-19 before the Cowgirls scored the final 6 points of the half to make the margin 33-25.

The Rams had shut down the early hot shooting of their opponent by locking in defensively on the Cowgirls’ three key players. WYO’s Kayla Woodward, the MWC pre-season Player of the Year, was being guarded by Ryder, who held her scoreless for the first 19 minutes. WYO’s Marquelle Dent, a talented and quick point guard, was being defended and pretty much shut down by Ellen Nystrom. And WYO’s Kaitlyn Mileto, a three-point shooting specialist, was being defended closely on the perimeter, mostly by Newton CSU held the three to a total of 8 points in the first half.

The Cowgirls obviously heard an earful from their coach at halftime about settling for perimeter shots and not guarding hard enough. They tried to ontst shots harder on the perimeter and they attacked the paint much harder. CSU’s lead grew to 11 early in the half but never got bigger than 12. Wyoming began to reel the Rams in. When th ePokes’ Jordan Kelley dropped a three-ball, the Rams’ lead was down to 4 at 55-51 and it was game on.

But that was as close as the game would get as first Newton had a steal that led to a Hesseldal three and then Nystrom followed with a steal that led to a Gustavsson three-ball which pushed the lead to 61-51.

From there the Rams closed the game out professionally by playing solid defense and making free throws.

At the buzzer their were cheers of joy as the orange-clad Rams had scored a valuable home victory and completed the regular season sweep over their arch-rivals from the north. They had been solid, not spectacular. And that is a good thing.

More thoughts… Guard AJ Newton had her best game since returning from leg surgery, scoring 17 points which included 3-5 from beyond the arc. Her best basket of the night came in the second half as she caught a bullet of a pass from Nystrom and finished at the rim between a couple of bigs.

Emile Hesseldal finished with a career high 12 points, mostly from the perimeter as she made a couple of three-balls and another pair of midrange baseline jumpers. She’s an agile big that fits very nicely with fellow Scandinavians Nystrom and Gustavsson.

The first half featured 0 fouls whistled on the Rams and 2 whistled on the Pokes. The second of the two came with .1 seconds on the clock. Basically there was 1 foul called for the entire half. I know I have never seen anything like that in a college basketball game.

One final thought… The loss on Saturday to Fresno State pushed them two games behind the Lady Bulldogs. But the Lady Bulldogs followed that up with a loss tonight to San Jose State, getting the Rams back within one game of first place. With Fresno still scheduled to play in Moby and twice against third place Boise State, the Rams will have an opportunity to climb into the race if they can take care of business like they did tonight. The run-in over the next several weeks should be a lot of fun.

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