If the Rams had the magic touch against San Diego State Tuesday night, then they lost it Wednesday evening in a 65-45 loss against the No. 1 seeded BYU Cougars.
At times it was hard to tell which team the Rams played for, giving up 25 turnovers to the Cougars over the course of the game, accounting for 23 of BYU's final points.
"Every coach likes turnovers because you can get easy baskets," said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. "That turned out to be a huge advantage for us tonight. On offense we didn't worry so much about the posts but focused more on shutting down the outside shots."
The Rams looked hopeful in the first half, shooting an impressive 52.9 percent from the field compared to the 37 percent shooting performance from BYU. The teams went back-and-forth on scoring runs creating five lead changes in the first 18 minutes of the game. By halftime the teams appeared nearly deadlocked with BYU holding the slight edge 29-26. But the Cougars showed they had earned the highest rank in the second half.
CSU shooting guard Sara Hunter finished the night with 10 points, including two shots from behind the arc. The last time the two teams faced off, Hunter recorded a career-high 27 points going 7-for-9 in 3-point shots.
"The first half was not our best half but in the second half we really came out and defended (CSU)," Judkins said. "Melinda Johnsen's challenge was not to let Hunter score on us and she really pulled through tonight."
BYU All-Star forward Ambrosia Anderson led all scorers on the night with 20 points and nine boards. This is the 26th time in Anderson's career to score 20 or more points in a game. She has led the Cougars in scoring in all but four games this season.
"Ambrosia is a terrific player. I really respect coach Judkins' way with her. She has a lot of freedom, and because she has that freedom, she's become the player that she is," said CSU head coach Jenn Warden. "She just plays the game. It comes to her. She feels it, and there's so much momentum that comes out of her play because of that."
The Cougars started the second half with a 13-0 run against Colorado State, while the Rams suffered a six minute scoring drought. Senior captain Vanessa Espinoza scored the first shot of the second half for the Rams with 14 minutes left in the game, but Anderson came right back with a jumper, bringing the score to 44-28. Espinoza led the Rams in scoring for the second night in a row with 15 points.
Senior forward Melissa Dennett finished the night with just six points, but led all rebounders with a game-high of 10. Junior center Marilyn Moulton came off the bench to contribute seven points and nine rebounds in the loss.
"BYU plays a very phyical zone. They knocked off our tracks on the penetration. The size of (BYU's) zone left it difficult to get an open shot," said Warden.
The game marked the end of college basketball for Espinoza, Dennett and co-capain Lindsay Thomas. The seniors showed an incredibly positive attitude throughout the losing season, setting an example for the team on and off the court.
"I know looking on paper everyonr thinks this year was a failure. The three seniors brought heart to this team," said Hunter. "I think every year it's just going to get better here and it starts with what these three seniors did this year."
This season marks the end of coach Warden's first year with the Rams.
She looks to the future with bright hopes for the CSU women's program and what can become."
"We will be a top-25 program, and it started with these seniors," said Warden. "As team, we're extremely proud of them."
Dennett 32 2-9 10 1 6 Thomas 28 2-5 5 0 4 Hunter 36 3-9 5 1 10 Espinoza 39
4-11 2 3 15 Nohr 25 1-2 1 0 3 Square 2 0-0 0 0 0 Kramer 4 0-0 0 0 0 Sheperd
2 0-0 0 0 0 Samuelson1 0-0 2 0 0 Willhite 10-0 0 0 0 Moulton 30 2-6 9 0 7
Anderson 29 8-17 9 2 20 Johnsen 28 1-4 1 0 3 Kubik 24 2-5 6 1 10 Keele 18
3-5 1 1 6 Gillespie 27 3-7 4 4 8 Seljaas 12 1-5 1 1 3 Stratton 18 0-1 1 4 0
Brown 1 0-0 0 0 0 Hutson 12 2-3 0 1 8 Slade 15 0-3 0 1 0 Faddis 1 0-1 0 0 0
Riley 11 3-4 4 1 7 King 4 0-1 1 0 0