Just because they haven’t done it in a while doesn’t mean that members of the CSU women’s basketball team have forgotten how to win.
With a second-half tenacity that has escaped the team in recent weeks, the Rams snapped their four-game skid in style, sending the visiting San Diego State Aztecs home with a 67-56 loss.
The Rams came out of the break on fire, shooting an unconscious 70 percent from the field in the first 10 minutes of the second period. They would finish the game with a 41.8 percent field goal percentage, including five three pointers and 16 free throws.
Junior guard Sara Hunter said that the way that the team played coming out of the break will give it a big boost of confidence as it wraps up the final two conference games.
“To finally pull out a win feels so good,” Hunter said. “You go into every game playing to win and thank goodness we finally did.”
The Rams were led by yet another career-high performance from freshman guard Emily Neal. Neal finished the game with 20 points and four rebounds, her second game in a row with a career scoring high.
“Every game we get a little bit better as a team and I think we showed that tonight,” Neal said. “We finally got everything to go together.”
Not far behind Neal was the ever-consistent Hunter, who finished the game with 19 points and four rebounds. It is her eighth straight game in double-digit scoring, a career best for her.
Rounding out the top scorers for the team was senior center Marilyn Moulton, who finished the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds to cement her fourth double-double of the season.
Head coach Jen Warden said that she is proud of the way that the team has been able to stick through the tough stretch and pull out a win on its home court.
“That is our players,” Warden said. “They continue to grow and come to practice ready to learn and adjust and improve. They are very exciting to coach.”
The Aztecs came into the game in 6th place in the Mountain West but have yet to win a road game in the conference.
CSU was able to contain SDSU’s “lightening quick” guards, as coach Warden called them, limiting the Aztec backcourt to just 22 points. SDSU was led by forward Shannon Clay, who finished the game with 13 points.
The Rams started the game off well, answering San Diego State scoring runs and limiting the long scoring droughts that have plagued the team at times this year. CSU held the Aztecs to just four points and a shooting percentage of just 14 percent in the first nine minutes of the game.
The teams shot an identical 10-30 from the field in the first half, with no player breaking into double-digit scoring. Both teams also struggled to find the mark from deep, with the Rams hitting just 25 percent of their three point shots and the Aztecs connecting at just a 20 percent clip.
As a team the Rams surrendered just 15 turnovers over the course of the game, pulling down 40 rebounds and picking up eight steals.
Coach Warden said the win is important for the team, but there is much more work to be done.
“The worst thing that we can do is to diminish this win in any way,” Warden said. “But we are not finished yet and we have a couple of more games ahead of us.”
The Rams will head to Laramie, Wyoming, for the second round of the Border War on Sunday. Tip off in that game is set for 3 p.m.
Women’s basketball beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.