Though she made several key plays throughout Saturday’s contest with BYU, CSU junior forward Joy Jenkins’ effort will be remembered for two of them: a bomb and a block.
Jenkins nailed a go-ahead three-pointer with 25 seconds left and then blocked an open BYU layup attempt to secure the Rams’ thrilling 71-70 overtime win.
The Rams’ second straight win moves them to 13-10 on the season, 4-5 in the Mountain West Conference.
In a tight game filled with several lead changes and big plays, Jenkins seemed to come up big on every one of her chances. The Aurora native finished with a game-high 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 5 for 5 in the first half.
“Joy was clutch the whole game for us, making shots in the first half, driving to the basket, making that three, getting that block,” said senior forward Ashley Augspurger. “She really stepped up. That’s the kind of player that she is. I think she can play that way every single game.”
With under a minute to play in the overtime, BYU’s Kestlee Nelson hit a jump shot from the right wing to give the Cougars (14-8, 5-4) a 70-68 lead.
Running their normal motion offense, the Rams worked the ball to Jenkins on their right wing. At first surprised with how open she was, Jenkins took one dribble in and hoisted a three-pointer. As with most of her shots on this day, it splashed through.
Back the other way, the Cougars had an excellent chance to regain the lead when Nelson shook her defender and found herself alone under the basket with the ball. But as she released the shot, Jenkins swooped in from behind just in time, swatting the ball out of bounds with eight seconds remaining and saving the lead for CSU.
The play was frighteningly similar to the one that sent the game into the extra period. With 1.3 seconds to play and the Rams leading 62-60, the Cougars had the ball out of bounds under their own basket. As Cougars guard Erin Thorn was having trouble finding an open player, center Danielle Cheesman suddenly appeared wide open under the basket.
Cheesman sank the layup as time expired and Moby Arena fell silent.
“I think the kids showed the resiliency they’ve had over the past two weeks by being able to come back in overtime after a major momentum play there and a real letdown,” CSU head coach Chris Denker said. “To blow an assignment and give up a wide-open layup could be very deflating. It’s a real credit to them to be able to respond like they did.”
Along with Jenkins, Augspurger was a second-half star for the Rams.
After sitting most of the first half with early foul trouble, Augspurger found her offensive rhythm in the second half – breaking out for 16 points after the break.
Augspurger finished the game with 18 points, moving her into eighth on the all-time CSU career-scoring list.
“Ashley is a great player. I wish I had her,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “What a competitor. She made some big plays when they needed them.”
Thorn, a preseason second team All-America pick, was outstanding for the Cougars. The senior finished with 21 points to go along with 12 assists.
The Rams will take to the road again next weekend for their final two road games of the season. While their record away from Moby Arena is only 2-9, Denker appeared confident in his team’s chances.
“It seems like anything and everything that could happen in a season has happened,” Denker said. “I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would think this would build some momentum for us.”