March 14, 2014
No. 1 Colorado State vs. No. 2 Fresno State | Game 32
March 15 | 8 p.m. MT | Las Vegas, Nev. | Thomas & Mack Center (18,500)
|COLORADO STATE RAMS||FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS|
No. 1 Colorado State (25-6) will play No. 2 Fresno State (21-10) for the third time this season in the Championship game of the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT at the Thomas & Mack Center (18,500). The Rams and Bulldogs split the regular-season home-and-home series. CSU lost at Fresno State (60-50) on Jan. 11 at the Save Mart Center, and evened the season series Feb. 15 at Moby Arena (53-47).
For an in-depth look at the Rams' history in the Mountain West tournament, as well as analysis of CSU's path to the championship, refer to Colorado State's Tournament Notes.
With an 11-19 record last year, the Rams have made the biggest one-year turnaround in program history, and secured their first 20-win campaign in 11 years under Head Coach Ryun Williams, now in his second season. The team has reached its best record in 14 years, winning 21 of its last 23, and the Rams are looking close out the MW tourney in strong fashion against the Bulldogs to secure the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.
The game will be broadcast live on AM 1410 KIIX or KIIXCountry.com. Matt Wozniak, now in his fifth season with the Rams, calls all the action. The matchup will also be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network. Rich Cellini (play-by-play), Tammy Blackburn (color) and Lauren Gardner (sideline) are on the call.
About Fresno State
- The Bulldogs, who were picked to win the Mountain West but finished second behind Colorado State, advanced to Saturday's championship game with an 80-65 win over UNLV in the quarterfinals, and an 82-71 win over Nevada in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have won seven straight games since falling at Colorado State, 53-47, on Feb. 15.
- Fresno State, led by former Colorado State assistant coach Raegan Pebley, is looking to repeat as MW Tournament Champions. As the No. 2 seed in the 2013 MW tourney, they knocked off top-seeded San Diego State, 76-70 to advance to the NCAA tournament.
- Through the end of the regular season, Fresno State ranked first in the Mountain West allowing opponents to shoot just 29.2 percent from three-point range. They rank just behind Colorado State in points allowed per game. CSU closed the regular season allowing 60.5 points per game, while FS gave up an average of 62.9.
- The Bulldogs are led by three players that average double-figures scoring in senior G Taylor Thompson (14.0 ppg), senior G Bree Farley (13.4 ppg) and junior F Alex Sheedy (13.0 ppg).
- Five Bulldogs have scored in double-figures in each of the team's victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Mountain West tournament, with Thompson (17 and 15), Thompson (15 and 22), UCLA transfer Moriah Faulk (15 and 19) and Sheedy (15 and 10) each going for 10+ points in both games.
- Sophomore C Jacinta Vandenberg, who stands at 6-6, leads the Bulldogs in rebounding by pulling down 6.7 rebounds per contest.
- Thompson averages an impressive 4.4 assists per game.
Series vs. the Bulldogs
- Saturday's meeting is the 15th game between the two schools. CSU has the upper hand in the series, with a 9-5 advantage over FS all-time.
- The Rams and Bulldogs have never met on a neutral floor. CSU is 4-3 in home games in the series, and 5-2 in games played in Fresno.
- Head Coach Ryun Williams is 1-3 in his career vs. Fresno State.
A win will...
- Be the second time Colorado State has won the championship in the Mountain West tournament since the conference was formed in 1999-2000. The Rams captured the 2001 tournament title by beating No. 7 Wyoming (70-59), No. 3 New Mexico (70-65) and No. 4 BYU (59-56).
- Tie for the second-most wins in a single season in program history, with the 1995-96 squad that went 26-5. The 1998-99 team set the all-time mark with a 33-3 record.
- Secure Colorado State's berth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament with the automatic bid out of the Mountain West. It would mark the Rams' sixth appearance in the NCAA Tourney, and their first since 2002.CSU also competed in the NCAA tourney in 2001, 1999, 1998 and 1996.
Last time vs. Fresno State (Feb. 15, 2014)
Good teams find ways to win games when things aren't going their way and baskets are hard to come by. The Colorado State Rams (20-4, 12-1 MW) did just that by grinding out a 53-47 victory over third-place Fresno State (14-10, 8-5 MW) on Saturday afternoon at Moby Arena.
Junior guard AJ Newton led all players with 14 points while junior guard Gritt Ryder added 13 points and four assists and freshman guard Ellen Nystrom tallied 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
With its first 20-win season since the 2002-03 campaign, the Rams have found a variety of methods to secure victories. This time, CSU notched its second victory of the season when it scored less than 60 points.
Just three days after putting up 100 points on the road at Utah State, the Rams struggled immensely from the field. CSU led just once at 5-3 in the first half and connected on only 22.2 percent of its shots, including going 1-15 from the three-point line.
While Colorado State couldn't seem to buy a basket in the first half, the Bulldogs took advantage by knocking down six of their 15 three-point attempts and opened up a 27-16 lead at halftime.
At halftime, Williams addressed his team and told them to remain poised and that they just needed to win the second half by twelve points. It was a message that his girls were prepared for.
Despite being held to a season-low for points in a half this season, the Rams proved to be resilient and came charging back early in the half, much to the delight of the 2,003 fans in attendance.
Colorado State gave Fresno State a taste of its own medicine and picked up its defensive intensity. Colorado State opened up the second half with a quick 7-0 run to make it a four-point contest with 17:10 left in the game.
Fresno State stretched the lead to as much as nine points at 39-30 with 12:58 left in the game before the Rams proved why they sit atop the Mountain West standings. Colorado State rattled off a 13-0 run over the next 6:37 to take a four-point lead over the Bulldogs. During the run, the Rams took its first lead of the game since the 16:43 mark of the first half.
Once CSU gained the lead, it would not relinquish it. Up by one, the Rams broke the press and Nystrom found senior forward Sam Martin running the lane for an easy layup and Martin's lone field goal of the game. The score gave CSU some breathing room as the Rams closed out the game to seal a six-point victory over the Bulldogs.
In the second half, Fresno State was limited to just 27.6 percent shooting from the field including 4-19 from downtown. The Rams forced the Bulldogs into 17 turnovers which they converted into 18 points. In a game in which scoring was hard to come by, that proved to be the difference.
Fresh off this grueling victory which stretched CSU's win streak to nine games, and 16 of the last 17, the Rams now face their toughest challenge to date when they travel to Boise, Idaho to take on second-place Boise State on Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. MT and will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network.
Should Colorado State defeat Fresno State, the Rams would secure the league's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The selection show for the national tourney is set for Monday night, March 17th.
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