The season officially came to an end in the second round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament for the CSU women’s basketball team (10-21, 5-13 MWC) as the Rams were eliminated for the second consecutive year by the fourth-seed New Mexico Lobos (22-9, 10-7 MWC) 62-48 Wednesday night.
“We made some adjustments and tried to do some different things, but bottom-line is that New Mexico is just a really good team and they just hurt us,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “I thought our energy coming out in the second half was better. I thought at times we were just seemed very tired, almost like we expended so much energy yesterday in that game that it was tough for us to conjure it up in this game.”
“It is sad that the season is over because I have really appreciated what the seniors have brought to the table. If they did not buy into what we were doing, there would have been no way we could have ever won ten games.”
The score of the game does not demonstrate how hard CSU played in Wednesday’s game. The Rams kept the Lobos in sight until the very end when New Mexico pulled away after CSU was forced to play the foul game.
After two free throws by CSU sophomore Zoi Simmons, the Rams pulled to within three points of the Lobos with 5:47 left on the clock. However, over the final five minutes, New Mexico began a 16-5 run that would send them to the semi-finals of the MWC Tournament.
Amy Beggin came to life for the Lobos in their final run, scoring 12 of New Mexico’s final 16 points. Beggin concluded Wednesday’s game the leading scorer for the Lobos with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“I think overall the turnovers is what killed us and then towards the end we had ten point deficit with two minutes to pull it out. At that point you are just trying to send every shot up with a hope and a prayer, trying to accumulate as many points as you can,” sophomore Bonnie Barbee said.
The Rams kept the Lobos within six points for the first 15 minutes of the second half, tying the game twice. CSU and New Mexico stayed tied at 27 for more than a minute until Angela Hartlill connected from downtown.
The Rams came out of the locker room down by only three points, tying the game at 25 when junior forward Juanise Cornell hit a jumper and senior forward Carine Reimink sank one of her two free throws.
“We were fortunate to only be down three at the half because we had 14 turnovers and gave up 14 offensive rebounds,” coach Holt said.
The first half was not a good performance for the Rams offensively. In the first 20 minutes of play, CSU turned the ball over 14 times and were held to zero second-chance points.
The Rams were able to stay in the game during the first half because of their defensive play that caused the Lobos to shoot only 28.6 percent from the field.
CSU held the lead for about eight minutes in the first half until Beggin hit a three and the Lobos took over the game.
New Mexico began the matchup going up 7-1 until two back-to-back threes by senior captain Kandy Beemer and freshman Kim Mestdagh tied the game at seven.
“I don’t know if I am happy that the season’s over because the seniors are going to be gone and it is not going to be the same anymore. I am really going to miss the team a lot. On the other hand I am really tired physically but I will miss it,” Mestdagh said.
For the Rams, Barbee, for the second night of the tournament, was the leading scorer totaling 12 points with her teammate Mestdagh finishing second with nine points and five rebounds.
Senior Amaka Uzomah once again led CSU in rebounding with nine boards.
The Lobos now move on to the semi-finals where they will take on the Utah Utes (20-9, 13-3 MWC), who swept the Lobos in the regular season.
San Diego State (22-6, 13-3 MWC) has yet to play in the tournament along with Utah after receiving a bye into the semi-finals and now waits to take on the winner of TCU (20-9, 12-4 MWC) and UNLV (13-17, 6-11 MWC), who pulled off the upset against BYU Tuesday night.
The Rams now head back to Fort Collins where they will try to build off of their first ten win year since the 2004-05 season.
“I am ready to start working for next year already. I think we will have a hardworking team and continue will what we did this year and do better than this year,” Mestdagh said.
“I think we are going to keep getting better and better. We will start building up to a more respected program like other schools in our conference,” Barbee said.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.