March 15, 2014
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Colorado State women's basketball team ended its run to the Mountain West Basketball Championship in the final round, with a 77-68 loss to Fresno State.
The loss caps off the Rams' most successful Mountain West season in 13 years. With a 25-7 record, Colorado State's campaign is not over yet, as the team will await a bid to Women's National Invitational Tournament.
Fresno State will advance to the NCAA tournament with the league's automatic bid for the second consecutive year, after winning its second straight MW championship and fourth consecutive conference title. The Bulldogs enter the postseason with a 22-10 mark.
"It's really important we take a step back and look at the big picture," said Head Coach Ryun Williams. "That was quite a run. That was quite a journey. I think these kids, they brought CSU basketball back to life. We'll continue to get better. We aren't going to stand still, that's for sure. We always say 'onward,' and we'll continue to move forward and hopefully perform really well in the WNIT."
CSU got off to a slow start, going 0-for-4 before Emilie Hesseldal sank the first bucket off a floater pass from AJ Newton. The Rams had little offensive flow approaching the halfway point, shooting just 10.0 percent from beyond the arc and 30.0 percent from the field, but kept within four points at the halftime buzzer, with 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
The Rams showed some life to begin the second half with a quick layup from Newton, but the team was quickly put to rest with a 9-0 Bulldog run. Fresno State would increase its lead to as many as 12 with 2:41 left to play. The Rams made a valiant effort fouling in the final 90 seconds, but the squad would never come closer than six points down the stretch.
As a team, the Rams shot 32.4 percent on the evening, including 14.3 from outside the arc, which was boosted by two late treys from Newton with under 45 seconds to go. For the third consecutive game Gritt Ryder led the team in scoring, with 18 points, including 8-of-8 from the line. Three other Rams tallied double figures, with Newton tallying 13, Caitlin Duffy crawling out her recent slump with 11 and Elin Gustavsson with 10.
Sam Martin was held scoreless for the first time this season, playing just 11 minutes.
Freshman Ellen Nystrom corralled a career-high 15 rebounds off the glass.
Colorado State switched to a man-to-man defense midway through the second stanza, which stifled the Bulldogs for a bit, resulting in a 12-5 run, but Fresno State silenced CSU's attempt at a comeback with a shot from deep. Fresno State made 10 three-point shots on the night.
The Rams will learn their WNIT location and seed following the NCAA Selection Show on Monday night.
Two Rams, Gritt Ryder and Elin Gustavsson were named to all-tournament team, joining Wyoming's Kayla Woodward and Fresno State's Bree Farley and Taylor Thompson (MVP).
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