Saturday night, in front of 1,567 fans, the CSU women’s basketball team (9-17, 4-9 MWC) swept the Air Force Falcons (4-22, 0-13 MWC) for their fourth Mountain West Conference win of the season, 65-54, and CSU’s second consecutive home win inside Moby Arena.
“I thought our effort was really, really good tonight,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “At times, especially in the first half, I thought we were overzealous. I loved the aggressiveness and you want your players to play with a lot of effort.”
The victory for the Rams more than doubles their wins from last season and could give CSU a better seed in the Mountain West Conference Tournament with only three games left in the season.
“I have never been excited about nine wins before, but it is my senior year and let’s get as many as we can,” senior forward Britney Minor said. “Hopefully we can get 11 wins before the conference tournament. We don’t what to have to be eighth or ninth going into the tournament.”
The nine-point victory for the Rams was a hard fault one, as CSU struggled from the field all game, sinking only 33.3 percent of their shots. The Falcons struggled as well, shooting 30.4 percent from the field, mainly because of the defensive play by the Rams.
“Again we just struggled shooting. I thought we had some point blank shots that we missed. We have got to make those, so we will keep working on it,” coach Holt said. “We just have to be smarter and more disciplined.”
The game concluded when Minor received her sixth rebound of the game as Air Force failed to connect on four consecutive shots on their end of the court.
The Rams led the game by 15, their biggest lead over the Falcons, three times. Freshman Meghan Heimstra put CSU up by 15 for the last time after she connected on two free throws with five minutes left in the game.
The Falcons pulled to within six points of the Rams with 14:43 left in the game and again at the 13:46 mark after a three-pointer from Air Force’s Raimee Beck.
The second half opened up just as the first half concluded with a three-pointer by senior captain Kandy Beemer that gave the Rams a quick 12-point lead. The teams entered the locker rooms at the half with the Falcons down by nine after Minor sank a shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer.
Air Force began the game shooting over 70 percent from the field in the first four minutes but ended the first half shooting 40 percent.
For the Falcons three players ended Saturday’s game scoring in double figures. Kim Kreke lead her team with 17 points and eight rebounds while Beck totaled 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior Brooke Cultra ended with 11 points and seven rebounds.
For the Rams, Minor was one of two players to post double digits, scoring 15 points coming off the bench for the first time this season.
“It felt kind of weird coming off the bench but I kind of like it. No pressure, just go out and play hard. I feel like I bring energy when I come off the bench,” Minor said.
Cornell was second in scoring with 10 points and went 4-4 from the free throw line, while Beemer and Heimstra totaled nine points apiece.
“It has been a long time since I have been consistent from the free throw line. I think I am finally getting in my grove,” Cornell said.
Senior Forward Amaka Uzomah once again led CSU in rebounding with eight boards.
Saturday’s game was much like the UNLV matchup were coach Holt allowed just about every player to gain some minutes on the court.
Freshman Kim Mestdagh received the start in place of Minor, who went down during the Utah game with a knee injury and was questionable as to how long she could play. Mestdagh impressed coach Holt in Thursday and Friday with her hustle and focus during practice, earning the start.
The Rams once again had another impressive free throw outing, going 17-21 at the line.
Wednesday night the Rams will travel north to face off against the Wyoming Cowgirls in the second Border War of the season.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at email@example.com.