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Colorado State 68 – Fresno State MMA Club 55 (Women)

March 2, 2016

  

On Senior Night with so much on the line in terms of conference regular season championships and countless streaks, the Colorado State women rose to the occasion late and recorded their most satisfying win of the season in front of a loud and boisterous home crowd.

It wasn’t a work of art.

But then again, Da Vinci would have had a hell of a time painting the Mona Lisa wearing boxing gloves.

Fresno State was determined to take the Rams out of their rhythm with physical play and it was working early. The Bulldogs drained three consecutive shots from beyond the arc in the game’s first 1:30 and ran out to an early 9-2 lead.  The Bulldogs went to work on the inside with their big pair of Bez Faz Davolos and Toni Smith, scoring at the rim and opening up more space from the outside. The Bulldogs were having their way over the Rams D.

Offensively, only Keyora Wharry was finding success against the Bulldogs’ 2-3 zone and was keeping the Rams in the game. At the end of the quarter, Wharry scored to bring the Rams to within 20-16.

The 2nd quarter has been the Rams’ quarter all year and they took an early 21-20 lead and looked to be on their way.  Fresno was piling up the fouls, the Rams were getting stops and the game was for the taking. But the Bulldogs weren’t going to go down that easily. With key players Faz Davolos and Shauquanna ollins on the bench with foul trouble, they still held their noses in front.  Offensively, the Rams were missing open looks and their best shooter, Jamie Patrick, was being smothered.  A crazy Hannah Tvrdy putback at the buzzer sent the Rams into the locker room trailing only 29-27.

Much of the same in the third quarter. Fresno doing enough offensively, garnering offensive rebounds to extend possessions, scratching and clawing on defense.  The Bulldog lead was 4 when Keyora Wharry went coast to coast to end the quarter with an and-1 that beat the buzzer.  The third time that the Rams had ended a quarter with a buzzer beater. 

Huge.

But when the Bulldogs opened the 4th quarter with an easy layup by Alex Furr off their perimeter weave, the crowd grew a little pensive.

The game, the conference season, the undefeated record in conference and at home, the consecutive win streak were very much on the line and it was in the balance.

The time when champions respond.

And oh how they responded!

The tireless Patrick finally worked her way into an open area of the right corner and drained her first three-ball of the night to tie the game at 47.

An Ellen Nystrom pass found center Alana Arias wide open under the basket and the lead was 49-47. The Bulldogs called a timeout to get Faz Davolos back in the game. Their coach recognized it was now or never.

The Rams defensive intensity had been good all night but with the crowd roaring their encouragement (make no mistake, it got loud!), the Rams forced a turnover. And another stop.

Ellen Nystrom had been running the show for the Rams all evening. It was now her time to turn the game on its ear.  In transition she found herself wide open beyond the arc, measured and fired a three-ball. Swish

Next possession she found Patrick alone in the corner.

Swish.

Jus like that it was 55-47 and the crowd was feeling it.

The defensive intensity continued, the Rams forced misses and grabbed rebounds.  

Another Patrick three and then a Nystrom elbow jumper with the shot clock expiring pushed the lead to 11 inside two minutes and all that was left was for the Rams to finish the game out.

Their class and their character had emerged in those 4+ minutes with the game on the line as they had outscored the Bulldogs 11-2.

But then the Bulldogs’ character emerged in those final two minutes as well.

They chose to foul but not in a normal way for several of them. Collins had a chance to foul Nystrom near the mid court line and went with the face rake. Furr, after having a three-point effort blocked, chose the diving leap and tackle method on Jamie Patrick earning a flagrant foul.   All that was left for the Bulldogs was to come off the top rope or attack with a folding chair.

Fortunately no one was hurt.  But it was appalling. There’s going down with a fight and then there’s BS. This was BS of the highest order.

The Rams were safely home after making all of the free throws and Coach Ryun Williams emptied the bench to give his starters the ovation they deserved.

Think about it.

Three straight conference regular season championships.

A 17-0 record in conference.

A 24-game winning streak to push their season record to 27-1

A Top 25 ranking in both the media and coaches’ polls.

An undefeated season at home.

What an extraordinary team!

And you can sing their praises and use as many glowing adjectives as you want.

But only one word matters.

Champions.

   
    
  

  
 

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