Jan. 15, 2014
By Craig Buchanan
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State women's basketball team (12-4, 4-1 MW) returned to its winning ways on Wednesday night with a thrilling 88-78 victory over Utah State (8-7, 2-2 MW) at Moby Arena.
"I thought we got off to a really good start," Head Coach Ryun Williams said. "We were organized and we got them out of that extended zone. I thought defensively we were really good earl; we contested a lot of shots, and rebounded exceptionally well which allowed us to get out and run."
Five different Rams scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Caitlin Duffy who scored 20 points, her second 20-point game of the year. Senior forward Sam Martin was second on the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman forward Elin Gustavsson had 16 points and seven rebounds and freshman guard Ellen Nystrom continued her stellar conference-play with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. In five conference games, Nystrom is averaging 12.0, 8.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
"After the game at Fresno State, we just had to forget it, have a short memory and focus on the next one," Nystrom said. "This is the team that we are, and it's so fun to play with this team."
As Colorado State passed the 80-point mark for the fifth time this season, three separate Rams, Martin, Nystrom and junior guard Gritt Ryder, registered double-doubles on the night, marking the first time that that has happened at CSU in 35 years. With 12 wins on the year; the Rams have already increased their win total from a year ago, when the team won 11 games.
From the opening tip, Colorado State's defense set the tone for the game. The Rams held the Aggies scoreless until the 15:14 mark of the first half, as they jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.
The swarming defense continued throughout the night, as the Rams consistently bothered Utah State's guards and limited the Aggies to just 34 percent shooting on the night. While Utah State struggled to find a rhythm on offense, the Rams were firing on all cylinders, connecting on 52 percent of their shots.
Midway through the first half, CSU used a 13-0 run over 2:47 to extend its lead from five points over Utah State all the way to 18 points at 32-14. The 13-0 run marked the longest scoring run for Colorado State all season.
After scoring just 50 points in their previous game at Fresno State, the Rams raced out to score 53 points in the first half alone, en route to a 23-point lead heading into the intermission.
"We played loose," Williams said. "I'm happy with how we responded after that Fresno State game."
CSU jumped out to the commanding first-half lead thanks to terrific unselfish play as the Rams registered assists on 16 of their 20 made field goals.
On the day, Ryder led the Rams in that department with 14 assists, including eight in the first half. Her 14 assists set a new career high and are tied for the second-most in Colorado State history, and the third-most in Mountain West history.
"We were just moving well together," Ryder said of her record-breaking performance. "I had 14 assists, but my teammates made the baskets; it was a team effort."
The Rams used that team effort to build up their lead to as much as 31 points on the night, at 72-41 with 11:29 left in the game, before Utah State began to claw back in the final couple of minutes. Led by senior guard Jennifer Schlott's game-high 24 points, the Aggies reduced the final margin to 10 points at 88-78.
The Rams will look to continue their good play on the road, as they travel south to Colorado Springs to take on in-state rival Air Force at 1 p.m. MT on Saturday afternoon. At 4-1 in the Mountain West, Colorado State is tied for first with Fresno State in the conference standings.
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