Dec. 14, 2008
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State women's basketball team used a strong second-half shooting performance and stifling defense to capture a come-from-behind win against the Northern Iowa Panthers on Sunday at Moby Arena.
"I think it was a big positive just pulling this game out," said Head Coach Kristen Holt. "Sometimes when you get into crunch situations, you can fall apart, but we didn't."
On the contrary, the Rams stepped up in crunch time and despite shooting just 45 percent from the free-throw line for the game, CSU connected on 5-of-6 attempts from the stripe in the final 1 minute, 43 seconds to seal the victory and improve to 3-6 on the season.
With the Rams trailing 51-50 and less than 2 minutes remaining in the contest, freshman guard Kim Mestdagh started a Rams fast break with a defensive rebound off the Kim Wypiszynski miss. Freshman forward Meghan Heimstra, attempting to reel in a long pass, was injured on a hard foul by UNI's Lizzie Boeck, and was unable to shoot the ensuing free throws. Holt turned to sophomore guard Bonnie Barbee, who delivered a pair of clutch shots to give the Rams a 52-51 lead with 1:43 remaining in the contest.
"Bonnie gives us a tremendous offensive punch and she loves crunch-time situations," said Holt of her decision to send Barbee to the line in Heimstra's place. "Bonnie has that gamer mentality, so it was a no-brainer when I looked down the bench at who was going to have to shoot those."
Wypiszinski connected two possessions later on a short jumper to regain the lead for UNI, 53-52, with 42 seconds remaining. After a Chatilla van Grinsven steal with 26 seconds remaining, Beemer was fouled by UNI's K.K. Armstrong. The Rams' senior captain confidently stepped to the line with a chance to regain the lead and hit nothing but net on the two attempts.
"I was really excited to have that chance again," said Beemer of her game-winning free throws. "At Wichita I had a similar situation and missed. I was glad to get the shots, and I was confident."
Following the Beemer free throws, the Rams defense held tough, forcing a missed layup by Armstrong. Mestdagh, who was immediately fouled after receiving the ensuing in-bounds pass, hit one-of-two free throws with 8.7 seconds left to give the Rams the 55-53 lead. A desperation three-pointer by UNI's Indy Uhlenhopp missed the mark, and the Rams walked away with the thrilling victory.
"I thought our defense did a solid job all game," added Holt. "If we had not given up so many offensive rebounds, you would have looked at our defense as being pretty darn tough today. Giving up those second-chance opportunities really hurt us."
The Rams held UNI to 29.8 percent shooting, a season-low for the CSU defense, but the Panthers outrebounded the Rams 50-38 and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 10 points.
Senior forward Amaka Uzomah answered the call for rebounding after halftime, adding six of her seven total rebounds and all three of her offensive boards after halftime. Wypiszynski and Boeck led all players with eight rebounds in the game.
Barbee finished as the Rams' leading scorer with 11 points in the contest, while senior forward Carine Reimink added 10 points, including eight of the team's first 10 in the contest. For UNI, Boeck and Nicole Claussen led the way with 12 points each, while Wypiszynski added 11 points.
The Rams, who have now won two straight at Moby Arena, will be away from the court for final exams this week, and will resume play Dec. 21 at Creighton. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT/ 1 p.m. MT.