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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Behind double-doubles from seniors Elin Gustavsson and Ellen Nystrom, the Colorado State women's basketball team downed the San Jose State Spartans, 65-60, on Tuesday from the Thomas & Mack Center to advance to the semifinals of the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship.
Gustavsson finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Nystrom recorded her 10th double-double of the season on 17 points and 12 boards. Gustavsson's 26 points are the most scored in a single MW tournament game in program history (25, Sara Hunter vs. BYU on March 9, 2005). Juniors Stine Austgulen and Hannah Tvrdy joined the seniors in double-figure scoring, tallying 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Colorado State (24-7) had as a lead as large as 13 points with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter. However, the Rams had to fend off a late surge by the Spartans (11-21), who got three-pointers from each of Taylor Turney, Hallie Gennett and Paris Baird to fuel a 10-0 run and cut the CSU lead to 45-42 heading to the fourth quarter.
The two teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter, with the Spartans cutting the CSU lead to as little as one at 55-54 with 3:06 to go. A Tvrdy jumper push the lead back to three at 57-54, but SJSU guard Dezz Ramos responded with a pair of free throws to cut the lead back to one.
From that point, the Rams scored on a jumper from Gustavsson and a pair of Nystrom free throws to take a 61-56 advantage. The Spartans' Ramos converted on another jumper to cut the CSU edge back to three, but Gustavsson and Austgulen combined to go 4-of-4 on free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the 65-60 win.
CSU never trailed on Tuesday, taking early control of the matchup with the first seven points of the game. The Rams extended that advantage to eight points at 14-6, and capped the first quarter with a 16-9 lead. The lead narrowed to five with just over three minutes left in the second quarter, but CSU closed the half with a 31-21 lead on free throws from Veronika Mirkovic and Nystrom, as well as a Gustavsson layup. Gustavsson scored 10 of her points on Tuesday in the second quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
Elin Gustavsson's 26 points were not only the most scored all-time by a CSU player in the MW Women's Basketball Championship - it also tied the most scored by any MW athlete in a quarterfinal game. Gustavsson match the 26 points scored by New Mexico's Khadijah Shumpert vs. San Jose State on March 8, 2016.
IN THEIR WORDS
Colorado State head coach Ryun Williams
"Survive and advance, that's what we did. San Jose State is always a tough matchup. They score the ball so well, and they can score so fast, with the three ball. So, no lead is ever safe when you play San Jose. We knew that and I think the biggest thing with this game for us is that we experienced a little bit of everything. We experienced a lead, we experienced giving up a lead, we experienced having to make free throws in a late game tournament situation, making some shots, when the momentum is in favor of the opponent. So like I told the kids, you're now -- if you weren't in this tournament before, you are now in this tournament, because you just experienced, I feel, everything that you might experience throughout a whole week in one game. How was that for an opening statement? That was pretty long."
On the importance of Elin Gustavsson and Ellen Nystrom to the team:
"Yeah, it's very, very important and extremely valuable to be able to play through a couple of seniors that have really, really been tested. But let's face it, San Jose State put four seniors out there, as well, that didn't want to lose today. I think that's why you saw the game work out the way it did...very, very close."
On the team's mentality entering the fourth quarter:
"Well, all we told them coming out of the end of that third quarter buzzer was just win the first four minutes of the fourth. Just break it down into that increment. Just keep it right there, don't even really look at the score board."
Senior forward Elin Gustavsson
On what worked for her in the post on Tuesday:
"We tried to get the ball into the post and I tried to take advantage of (the way they played her defensively). If they would play tight I tried to go by them, if they backed off I tried to shoot over them. So, kind of make them a little bit confused because I tried to do both. Be a threat everywhere."
Senior guard Ellen Nystrom
On the physicality of the game:
"I think it makes the game more fun, if it's more physical. And I think it's good that the refs allow us to be more physical. It's March, so that's how it's supposed to be."
On what the team takes away from this game that will help it in the semifinal:
"I think our poise was good. Our defense was really good, our rebounding. But I think -- we've got a taste of what the tournament is like, and all the people that are new to our team got a taste of what it's like, and how it's like. So now we're in it."
- Colorado State's 24 wins so far this season matches the sixth-most wins in a single season in program history. The Rams have won at least 23 games in each of the past four seasons (including 2016-17).
- CSU's current win percentage this season is .774, matching the sixth-best single-season mark in program history.
- Colorado State improves to 16-15 all-time in the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship.
- Dating back to last season, CSU has won four consecutive MW Women's Basketball Championship games.
- The Rams are now 7-3 all-time as the No. 1 seed in the MW Women's Basketball Championship.
- The Rams have won their conference tournament opener for the second straight season and for the third time overall under fifth-year head coach Ryun Williams.
- Tuesday's game was the first neutral-site game played by the Rams this season.
- The Rams have won six of their last seven games against MW opponents.
- Ellen Nystrom made the 128th start of her career on Tuesday, matching the MW record (128 starts by Utah's Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn from 2002-06).
- With 17 points on Tuesday, Nystrom passed Angie Gorton for eighth all-time in scoring in program history. With 1,413 career points, Nystrom is 64 points behind Ashley Augspurger.
- Elin Gustavsson passed each of Angie Gorton and Heather Haanen on CSU's all-time scoring list, now ranking ninth all-time at CSU. Gustavsson has 1,409 points for her career.
- Nystrom's 17 points are the most she has scored in a single MW Women's Basketball Championship game.
- With 12 rebounds on Tuesday, Nystrom matched Katie Cronin for the third-most rebounds in a career in CSU history (857).
- Nystrom now has 159 assists this season, the fourth-most in a single season in program history. Nystrom owns the record (186), while Becky Hammon owns the No. 2 (174 in 1998-99) and No. 3 marks (161 in 1997-98).
- CSU held the San Jose State offense to 60 points, marking only the seventh time this season that the Spartans have scored 60 points or fewer. Playing a big role in that was the Rams' defensive effort on SJSU guard Dezz Ramos, who was held to 19 points on 4-of-20 shooting one game removed from a 34-point performance.
The No. 1 seed Colorado State women's basketball team will face the No. 4 seed Boise State Broncos on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championships. Opening tip is set for 6:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. MT from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
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