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Colorado 70 – Colorado State 67

December 7, 2017

First let me apologize for not blogging the CSU Women’s victory over BYU on Saturday. I was tired after working early and attending two games. The Rams scored a 56-54 win after holding a 16-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter. A top shelf performance for 25 minutes was sallied by some poor shooting decisions and careless ballhandling and it took a great defensive effort by senior Hannah Tvrdy on BYU’s leading scorer Cassie Broadhead (married name I cant spell) on the final possession to keep the Rams on the good side of the score.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and a visit to Moby by the Mighty Buffs of Boulder, a young and inexperienced squad off to a 6-1 start. Big on the front line but led by an All Pac-12 stalwart point guard named Kennedy Leonard.

The Rams began well as they scored easy layups at the rim on their first two possessions. But then they uncharacteristically began to turn the ball over and the Buffs took full advantage of the gifts as they stampeded down the court to score easy layups. It was CSU being a bit jumpy and sloppy and it was also it the speed of the Buffs forcing them. A Rams team used to turning the all over less than 11 times per game had 11 turnovers in the 1st quarter and trailed 24-13. A blowout was in the cards.

CSU was throwing a solid 2-3 zone defense at the Buffs causing them issues in the halfcourt but it wasnt going to be enough if the Rams didnt get better with the ball. But with all the starters on the bench other than Hannah Tvrdy, CSU settled in and began chipping away at the deficit. The main instigator was senior guard Stine Austgulen who shot 3-3 from beyond the arc and junior Annie Brady who was scoring at the rim. With Jordyn Edwards and Callie Kaiser providing energy along with the steady hand of Tvrdy, the Rams found a way back into a 3-point lead until the Buffs scored twice in the final minute to lead by 1 at the half.

The second half began much the same as the first as the Rams spurted early into a small lead and then the Buffs started to put down the hammer by crashing the paint and drawing fouls. Leonard was flailing her way into foul calls and the Buffs pushed their lead back into double-digits. The Buffs’ size was causing the smaller Rams fits on the boards and once again things looked bleak.

And then Buff frosh Annika Jank nailed a three-ball early in the 4th quarter to push the Buff lead to 64-49.

It was fight or flee for the Rams at that point and fight they did!

They ratcheted up the defense and scrapped for every loose ball and rebound. A three-ball by Austgulen and 3 free throws from Sofie Tryggedsson got the lead down to single digits and there was hope. The defense was keeping the Rams in the game but then they followed with three empty offensive possessions. A pair of free throws by CU big Zoe “Three Seconds” Correal (whose nickname has to be Three Seconds because thats what the crowd shouts every time she’s on the offensive end) had the Buffs leading 66-55 at the 3:00 mark.

The Rams chose to go down swinging as freshman guard Grace Colaivalu took the game into her hands, scoring on a variety of short jumpers and layups and feeding others for hoops. Next thing you know the Rams had the lead down to 4 and the ball. They ran a play to get Callie Kaiser a three-ball from the corner and when Kaiser drained the high-arcing shot it was down to 1. An immediate foul and a pair of free throws from Leonard pushed the Buff lead back to 3 but there were still 8 seconds.

Colaivalu hustled the ball down the floor and calmly surveyed the situation. When she saw no Rams open, she stepped back and launched a three-ball that looked like it had a chance. Unfortunately it glanced off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

70-67 Buffs. A nice rivalry win for the visitors and heartbreak for the Rams.

But it was a game where both teams can feel like they took some steps forward. Leonard had led her team and Jank had scored a game and career high 22 to go with 13 rebounds. For the Rams, Colaivalu would finish with 13, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Austgulen and Tvrdy delivered 12 each and it was their hard-nosed efforts on the defensive end that had given the Rams a chance.

Some goods and some not so goods from both teams but everything you’d expect from a rivalry game in terms of effort and scrap.

It was a darn good show from my seat.

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