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FORT COLLINS, Colo. - In the final regular-season home game of their careers, seniors Elin Gustavsson and Ellen Nystrom combined for 39 points to lead the Colorado State women's basketball team past the Nevada Wolf Pack, 64-51, on Senior Night at Moby Arena.
In front of family and the Ram faithful, the duo pushed the Rams to their sixth victory in their last seven games, a 23-7 overall mark and 15-3 mark in conference action. For the fourth straight season, Colorado State has won at least 15 conference contests.
Gustavsson scored a game-high 20 points for her eighth 20-plus point outing this season. The Angelholm, Sweden native also notched six rebounds in 34 minutes of competition. Nystrom recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Junior guard Hannah Tvrdy added 13 points with eight rebounds.
CSU never trailed on Friday night, leading by two points after the first quarter, nine points at halftime and by 11 points after the third quarter. The Rams pulled away in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 19 points with 7:47 left in the game.
Both teams started relatively slowly, as the Rams led 8-6 after the first quarter. The CSU offense took off in the second quarter, outscoring the Wolf Pack, 20-13. The key stretch in that period began with 5:14 left in the first half, as the Rams took control of the game with a 13-2 run over the next three minutes. Four different Rams contributed to that run, with Nystrom and Gustavsson combining for six of those points.
Following Friday's win, Nystrom and Gustavsson were recognized for their standout careers at Colorado State. No senior class - women's or men's - in Mountain West history has recorded as many wins as the duo's 63 victories. Following that ceremony, the Rams celebrated their fourth consecutive regular season MW title. No other team in MW history - women's or men's - has won four titles in a row.
IN THEIR WORDS
Colorado State head coach Ryun Williams
"I like how we defended. We just kept guarding until we got a decent rhythm. We then made a few shots so we could finally take somewhat of a breath and play basketball. Those kids just calmed down. When they play with a little patience and slow down, they can make their reads. Whether it is to score or to pass, and they played like seniors the second half. Just a lot of jitters - and it obviously was a big night - family from all over the place were here, so you can understand why those kids were wound up tonight."
On what the coaching staff has learned about the team going into the conference tournament:
"I think we have great resolve. We just keep playing. We are not overly sensitive when we do not score, we just keep guarding. I liked our guards' mentality tonight. We shot it with great confidence and rhythm. We said we were treating this game like the first game of the tournament because everyone is going to have that jittery start and you are going to have to settle into it. We treated this one like round one of the tournament and we have three more."
Senior forward Elin Gustavsson
On what the CSU fans have meant to her:
"They have meant so much. The fan base has been growing every year. This is our home. When we are on the road and come back, we are always like, `Hey Moby, we're back! We're here to protect you.' Moby is our home."
On how often she gets to play in front of her family:
"Does FaceTime count? They are very supportive. They watch every game, even if it's three in the morning. Having everyone here is super overwhelming."
Senior guard Ellen Nystrom
On how important it was for the Rams to have a strong game tonight in preparation for the MW tournament:
"We need to stay aggressive and keep the same mentality that we have right now. We are happy and want to celebrate this, but we want to win that title."
On if reality has set in on this possibly being her last game in Moby:
"It still feels like we will be coming back next year."
STAT OF THE GAME
Ellen Nystrom and Elin Gustavsson have won by far the most conference games of any basketball player - women's or men's - in Mountain West history. Their 63 MW wins tops the next-best total over a four-year span by eight (55 by Colorado State women's basketball from 2012-16, 55 by San Diego State men's basketball from 2012-16).
- With Friday's win, fifth-year head coach Ryun Williams' conference winning percentage improves to .795 (70-15). Williams passes former Utah head coach Elaine Elliott (.793; 130-34) for the best winning percentage in conference games in Mountain West history.
- CSU finishes the regular season 15-1 at Moby Arena, marking the third straight season that the Rams won 15 games at home. The Rams have only won more than 15 games at Moby Arena in three seasons (17 in 2002-03, 16 in 1999-00 and 17 in 1998-99). Additionally, the Rams' 15-1 home record by winning percentage (.938) ties for the fourth-best in program history.
- The Rams have won eight straight games at home, as well as 30 of their last 31 games played at Moby Arena. That streak matches the 10th-best home win streak in program history.
- CSU has won 11 consecutive games against Nevada, and are now 6-0 all-time against Nevada at home.
- CSU has won five of its last six games against conference foes.
The Colorado State women's basketball team is set to compete at the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship next week in Las Vegas, Nev. Colorado State is the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament. The Rams will play the winner of the game between No. 8-seeded San Jose State and No. 9 seed San Diego State on Tuesday, March 7 at noon PT/1 p.m. MT.
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