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Colorado State 68 – Nevada 61 (Women)

March 4, 2015

Players play.

Coaches coach.

And when you combine good players with good coaches, you get good teams that win championships.

And so for the second year in a row, under 3rd year coach Ryun Williams and behind the 2-year backcourt of Gritt ryder and AJ Newton, the Rams are champions of the Mountain West Conference.

I’m not going to spend much time recapping the game. Other than to say it was close, then the Rams broke it open to lead by 10 at the break, other than to see the lead completely disappear against a bigger Nevada team.  The Rams were winning the turnover battle and the 3-point shooting battle, but the Wolf Pack was killing it in the pain and on the offensive glass.

I’d rather spend my time describing the moment of truth in this game.  Let me set the scene.  With 2;30 to go, Nevada had just cut the lead to 4 and called for a 30-second timeout to set their defense.  CSU Coach Ryun Williams drew up a play for the ages.

Gritt Ryder calmly brought the ball up the court.  Center Alana Arias flashed to the wing for a pass.  The ball went back to Ryder as wing Hanne Mestdagh set a back screen in the paint to free up Arias in the post.  The ball went to Arias and now Ellen Nystrom was etting a screen at the free three line to free up Mestdagh for a three.  Earlier in the half, the Rams had run a similar play to set up Jamie Patrick for a three, which she had missed.  

Nevada was ready this time.

Except they weren’t.

Because Nystrom slipped the screen, cut hard to the basket, and received a pass from Arias for an uncontested layup to push the Ram lead to 6.

A perfectly drawn up play by a good coach, a perfectly executed play by a bunch of good players.

It was game, set, match as the Rams had the margin and the energy from their great execution to close the game out.

Champions again!

More Thoughts…   The Rams do not match up well with Nevada.  So it wasnt a surprise that the 1st place team was struggling with the 10th place team.  Parries to the rim are met with shot blocking and physical play of 6’8″ Mimi Mungedi.  On the offensive side, Nevada had no trouble getting shots at the rim against the smaller Ram guards.  A switch to a 2-3 zone by the Rams got the Rams into the lead but Nevada made the adjustments at halftime to deal better with that zone.  It turned into a nervy, nail-biting affair as a result.

CSU junior Jamie Patrick has come a long way in her first year with the Ram program since her arrival from a JC in Kansas.  She began as a sharpshooter from the perimeter.  She is a much more complete player on both ends now.  She finished the game with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.  Her best move of the night was a Euro-step layup which she missed.  I grabbed her after the game and she told me shewas so surprised the move worked so well that she missed the shot.  Awesome move, missed shot, good laugh after the game.

If you think officiating at the men’s level can be spotty, you’d get even more laughs at some of the stuff in the womens’ game.  With about 20 seconds left in the game, Nevada missed a shot and Elie Gustavsson garnered the rebound.  Nevada immediately fouled her.  Gustavsson walked to the other end prepared for her free throws. For some reason, the officials weren’t sure who was fouled and had to go to the replay monitor.  Everybody in Moby knew it was Gustavsson.  Except for the three officials who spent minutes looking at the replay. One official pointed to Ellen Nystrom to shoot the free throws and she gave the most quizzical “I wasn’t anywhere near the ball” look and threw up her hands in amazement.  That sent the officials back to the monitor for another good minute before they determined what everyone already knew.  They sent Gustavsson to the line and she calmly sank the free throws.

One final thought…  The starting backcourt of Gritt Ryder and AJ Newton have combined for a 29-6 conference record in their two years at CSU and have led the Rams to a pair of championships.  They can clinch an outright championship with a win at home over Utah State on Friday night.  I’ll be there for their Senior Night.  I hope other Ram fans who may not have womens basketball high on their list will find a way to get to Moby to celebrate the playing careers of two great young ladies!

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