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Colorado State 64 – Colorado 63

December 3, 2015

What is it about CSU-CU games?

Doesnt matter if its men or women. Doesn’t matter if one team gets a lead and looks to have things under control.  It almost always comes down to the last possession.

But I’m not sure there’s been a better finish in recent years.  Certainly the Dorian Green runner four years ago after CU had taken a late lead was a good one.  

The teams traded blows in the first half with CU running out to an early lead as they were hot from beyond the arc.  Elie Gustavsson brought the Rams back scoring from inside and out and the Rams had their nose in front 19-18.

The Rams ran out to an early 2nd quarter lead as the Buffs’ best big Jamie Swan said hello to the bench after being whistled for her 3rd foul.  Jamie Patrick made a layup  and a step-back three and all of a sudden the Rams were up 7. CU frosh Kennedy Leonard was keeping her team in the game with her clever play, drawing fouls that sent Ellen Nystrom, Keyorra Wharry, and Hannah Tvrdy to the pine.  CU closed on a 5-0 run which left the Rams in front by 2 at the half.

The second half was a whistlefest as both teams picked up their intensity on the defensive end. Wharry picked up a pair of quick fouls and Swan picked up an early 4th, sending both to the bench.  Slowly CSU began to establish their inside game both in the post with Alana Arias and via parries to the rim by Nystrom and Gustavsson and the lead grew to as much as 10.  

It was now or never for CU and Swan returned to the floor to begin an extended Buff comeback.  Point blank misses by Nystrom and Arias were countered by Swan and Leonard at the other end and next thing you know the Buffs had stuck their noses in front with just over a minute to go.

Another Arias miss from close in, a Buff rebound, and the Rams needed a stop in the final 30 seconds. They got it when Arias forced a miss and it was CSU ball with 20 seconds trailing by 1.

Cue Ellen Nystrom, the magnificent Swede.

She went hard to the hoop and made a highly contested layup with 13 seconds remaining.  Rams by 1

CU called a timeout and drew up an isolation play for Kennedy who proceeded to beat Tvrdy off the bounce and score a fabulous, scooping runner high off the glass with 3.6 seconds remaining.  Buffs by 1.

And then a CSU timeout to talk things over and set up a final play.  They stacked 3 players high near the hash and Nystrom in the right corner.  The pass went to Nystrom, who turned toward the baseline, elevated and fired. 

I’ve seen a lot of shots from that angle in Moby over the year.  Sometimes you can tell when the ball has left the hand that it is going in.  It looked true all the way and when it went cleanly through the hoop, the Rams were back in front with 1.7 seconds on the clock.

CU tried a long pass which was contested and fell harmlessly to the floor, and the bench  rushed the floor to celebrate with their victorious teammates.

It was a game for the ages. 

Until the next time they meet.

One final thought…

I asked Ellen Nystrom after the game if she knew the shot was good when it left her hand.  She replied “Yes”.  Thats the magical thing that happens in sports.  A 15′ jumper, a 15′ putt, it doesnt matter.  Sometimes you just know. It looked great from the 7th row, it looked great from the bench, but only Nystrom really knew.

Winning smiles are beautiful.

  

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