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Colorado State 83 – UNLV 52

February 14, 2016

The Moby faithful and others came out in force hoping to see history set.

With a win, this year’s Rams squad would tie the all-time school record for consecutive wins at 19, set by the 1998-99 team led by the great Becky Hammon and her foil Katie Cronin.

They were not disappointed as the Rams played their trademark D, held their own on the boards with a tough rebounding Rebel team, and scored effectively throughout in delivering a comprehensive win.

The only hiccup came pre-game when many of the Rams were sent back to the locker room to change their undershirts to match their jerseys. An NCAA rule required it.  On a Pink Out day, many had come to the floor wearing white undershirts.  They quickly changed to pink.

It made no difference as the Rams ran out to a 24-12 first quarter lead.  Ellen Nystrom was running the show and Keyora Wharry was scoring at the rim. Together they combined for 15 points.  Elie Gustavsson was also having her way with UNLV’s bigs, driving to the tin when they tried to defend her on the perimeter and scoring form beyond the arc when they gave her room.

The second quarter played out differently as CSU tried to work the ball to their bigs in the post.  UNLV countered by doubling and tripling the post, leaving the perimeter open.  Sharpshooter Jamie Patrick took over and scored 11 points on trio of three-balls and a two-pointer with her foot on the line. 

The Rams went into the locker room leading 42-24 and had shot nearly 60% including 7-11 from beyond the arc.

The onslaught continued in the 3rd quarter as the Rams scored both inside and out.  Patrick and Gustavsson were scalding the Rebels from the perimeter and subs Alana Arias and Callie Kaiser scored at the rim.   Frosh big Amanda Kantzy got some valuable time off the bench.  It was 58-37 after three and it was a formality from then on. 

But one thing about this team.  Nothing is a formality. They take pride in every possession on both ends of the floor.  No matter who is in the game, they’re going to defend you hard and they’re going to attack on the offensive end.  UNLV tried to throw some pressure and the Rams scored.  UNLV tried to attack and the Rams denied.

And when the opportunity to score in transition appeared, they delivered the play of the game that brought the crowd to its feet.  A defensive rebound by Ellen Nystrom and quick outlet to Keyora Wharry.  Wharry caught the ball and zipped a pass to Jamie Patrick in the right corner.  Patrick looked and saw a streaking Arias running the floor and zipped another pass. Arias caught the ball, gathered, and layed the ball in.  The ball never touched the floor during the entire sequence.  It was offensive basketball of the highest level.

The subs came in and the onslaught continued, punctuated by a Hannah Tvrdy steal and breakaway layup for the final score.

Patrick led the way with 19, Gustavsson had 17, Wharry 14, and Nystrom 11.  The Rams shot 12-21 from beyond the arc and delivered an astounding 23 assists to only 4 turnovers.

19 in a row and a place for this year’s team in the history books.  A season record of 22-1 and an MWC leading record of 12-0.

Pretty in Pink!

More thoughts…

During the post-game press conference, Coach Ryun Williams wondered out loud if it was time to declare some kind of era over the past three season much like the Hammon/Cronin team era.

There have been so many great contributors in the past 2+ years on a team better defined for its depth than any individual stars like Becky and Katie.  Sam Martin, Gritt Ryder, and AJ Newton were all-MWC performers who have moved on.  Keyora Wharry, Jamie Patrick, Emilie Hesseldal and Alana Arias are in their second years of making big contributions. 

The two players who have been there night in and night out are Ellen Nystrom and Elie Gustavsson.  Both all-MWC performers. Both blessed with individual talent but also consummate team players.  Both from Sweden. One blonde. One brunette.   Easily the most talented blonde/brunette Swedish duo since Agnetha and Frida of ABBA.

I’m not clever enough to come up with a name.  But Mamma Mia, these girls can really play.

By the way, Elie was my star of the game today.  So many played well but Elie was on fire from the perimeter and scored beautifully off the bounce as well.  


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