Saturday afternoon in Moby Arena the CSU women’s basketball team (8-16, 3-8 MWC) dominated the UNLV Lady Rebels (10-14, 3-8 MWC) in route to its third MWC win, 85-55.
“I was surprised that we were able to do what we did. A lot of things just went our way,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “Any calls we didn’t get in the first half, we got at the beginning of the second and that really helped us a lot. It was a really fun win.”
The 30-point victory for the Rams was their biggest win since beating Air Force by 35 points on March 5, 2005. The win was also CSU’s first home win in Mountain West Conference play since Feb. 22, 2007, when the Rams conquered SDSU 62-56.
“I think we just came out ready to play them (UNLV),” senior forward Britney Minor said. “We knew for the most part it was going to be a battle and we had to play hard the first half because none of the calls went our way.”
Saturday’s game concluded with sophomore Bonnie Barbee connecting on one of her two free throw attempts with two seconds left on the clock, sealing the 30-point victory. The largest lead for the Rams was 35 points at the 3:47 mark after junior Alison Cheney sank a jumper.
“I think you are starting to see the hard work we have put in the last three months,” said junior forward Juanise Cornell.
The second half belonged to the Rams as they outscored the Lady Rebels 45-25. UNLV shot only 20 percent from the field in the final half.
CSU came out in the second half outscoring the Lady Rebels 13-2 in the first six minutes of play, giving the Rams an early 22-point lead.
UNLV pulled their way to within 10 points of the Rams in the final four minutes of the first half and entered the locker room down by 10.
The Lady Rebels held the lead only one time in the game, leading the Rams by one in the first three minutes of play.
Four players for the Rams ended Saturday’s game scoring in double digits. Barbee led the Rams in scoring with a career-high 19 points, Minor totaled 14 points, sophomore Zoi Simmons compiled 12 points, and Cornell scored 10 points, giving her four consecutive games with 10 or more points.
“The other games do not count because we lost,” Cornell said. “When you contribute to your team and win ball games, then the points matter.”
The Lady Rebels struggled with shooting the entire game, connecting on only 25 percent of their shots, while the Rams shot 47 percent from the field.
CSU continues with their impressive free throw performance this season, sinking 15-18 from the line Saturday. Cornell connected on her four free throw attempts and freshman Meghan Heimstra made all six of her free throw shots.
The Rams managed to outrebound UNLV 50-31 with Minor leading CSU with nine rebounds and freshman Chatilla Van Grinsven with a career-high eight rebounds.
“It felt good tonight because it wasn’t just our shooters that played well. Everybody contributed to the win,” Minor said.
Coach Holt gave every player the opportunity to play in Saturday’s game with all but two players scoring two or more points.
“The reason that it’s so awesome that we won the way we did, was because everyone got to play and everybody contributed,” coach Holt said. “The team morale right now is really good. I think this is huge as we go down this last stretch. This is going to give us a huge amount of energy.”
Next up for the Rams will be a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday to take on the MWC-leading Utah Utes (17-7, 10-1 MWC).
Last time the two schools faced off against each other, the Utes took the victory 74-48 in Moby Arena.
The Rams will be looking for revenge Wednesday night.
“They (Utah) need to be scared,” Cornell said.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.