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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Colorado State women's basketball team fell to the Boise State Broncos, 65-61, on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship from the Thomas & Mack Center.
Wednesday night's game came down to a dramatic fourth quarter in which Colorado State (24-8) and Boise State (24-7) combined for 49 points. CSU shot 53.3 percent (8-of-15) in a fourth quarter that featured back-and-forth scoring and seven instances of a tied score. However, Boise State countered with 64.7 percent (11-of-17) shooting and 85.7 percent shooting from three-point range (6-of-7). Boise State was able to wrestle away the Rams' lead twice in the final period, as the Broncos only led for 2:22 in the final period. The Broncos took the lead for the final time with 1:01 to go.
The Rams led, 60-57, with 2:09 to play. 34 seconds later, Boise State's Brooke Pahukoa banked a miracle three-pointer off the glass to tie the game for the 12th time and seventh time in the fourth quarter. On the Broncos' next possession, Yaiza Rodriguez converted from the top of the three-point arc to take a 63-60 lead. Ellen Nystrom drew a foul and converted on one free throw attempt to trim the deficit to 63-61 with 44 seconds to play.
The Rams got the stop they needed on the next possession as Pahukoa missed a mid-range jumper; however, the rebound caromed over the head of would-be Ram rebounders and into the hands of Pahukoa. After corralling the offensive rebounds, Pahukoa drove to the basket and scored on a layup with 44 seconds to go, the final points in the 65-61 semifinal.
Nystrom finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Elin Gustavsson tallied 14 points with 12 rebounds, while Myanne Hamm scored 14 points off the bench. CSU shot 36.8 percent (21-of-57) for the game, while Boise State shot 43.3 percent (26-of-60). The Broncos were led offensively by Riley Lupfer, who scored 11 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Both teams shot well to start the semifinal, as the Rams shot 40 percent and the senior duo of Gustavsson and Nystrom combined to go 4-for-7 with 10 points in the opening period. The Rams trailed, 16-14, heading to the second period, but held the Broncos without a point for the first 5:54 of the period to take a 22-16 lead. The Rams' defense limited the Broncos to two field goals for the second quarter to take a 27-23 advantage to halftime.
The Rams maintained that four-point lead until the 6:17 mark of the third quarter, as a 7-0 run gave Boise State its first lead since the early second quarter. CSU converted on 2-of-12 field goal attempts in the third quarter, but generated offense by converting on all eight free throw attempts in that period. Beginning at the 8:07 mark in the third quarter, the Rams had missed nine consecutive field goals, but Tvrdy broke the drought in the final minute to put the Rams back ahead, 41-40. The Seward, Neb. native added two more points on free throws in that final minute, and the Rams took a 43-40 advantage to the dramatic fourth quarter.
IN THEIR WORDS
Colorado State head coach Ryun Williams
"Boise State was outstanding. It was a really good college basketball game. I think you saw two talented teams out there and you saw kids on both sides that didn't want to lose. You saw a lot of really neat plays and special plays being made. They just made a few more than us tonight."
On Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell's comments calling Elin Gustavsson and Ellen Nystrom two of the best players in Mountain West history:
"I respect Gordy a lot. Gordy coached a really good game tonight. They've won a lot of basketball games, too, during these four years that Ellen and Eli have played. So for him to say that, that's quite a compliment, because he knows what he's talking about. And Gordy is right. He's right. These two - this duo right here, they're special. They've won a lot of games. But I wish the whole league could just know Ellen and Eli, just know them as people, not as basketball players, but just know them as human beings, they would be even more impressed with these two."
Senior forward Elin Gustavsson
On what she takes away from Wednesday's game:
"I know after this season how much I really love basketball. And how much I love playing with Ellen (Nystrom). My four years here at Colorado State have been so amazing...I love my team. I love playing with Ellen. And I'm just going to take all the positive energy, all my positive memories, happy memories and everything."
STAT OF THE GAME
With 10 rebounds on Wednesday, Ellen Nystrom finishes with 93 career rebounds across four years the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship. Nystrom's 93 rebounds in MW tournament play are the most in conference history, passing Utah's Kim Smith (79 rebounds in 2003-06 MW tournaments).
- Ellen Nystrom made her 129th career start on Wednesday, the most in Mountain West history. The previous record was held by Utah's Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn, who made 128 starts each from 2002-06.
- Elin Gustavsson made her 128th career start, matching the previous MW record held by Utah's Smith and Thorburn.
- Gustavsson's 12 rebounds and four offensive rebounds on Wednesday each tie for the fifth-most in a single MW tournament game in program history.
- Myanne Hamm made four three-point field goals, tying for the third-most in a single MW tournament game in program history.
- Hamm's .571 three-point field goal percentage is the second-best in a single MW tournament game in program history.
The Colorado State women's basketball team will await its postseason fate this Monday, March 13, when the NCAA Tournament and WNIT brackets are announced.
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