If Thursday night is a sign of things to come, fans of CSU women’s basketball have a reason to be excited.
The Rams tipped off exhibition play Thursday night by beating the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves in front of a small but spirited crowd scattered throughout Moby Arena.
After building a 32-29 first half lead, the Rams pulled away late in the second half in route to an impressive 81-59 final score, the teams biggest point total since February of last year.
CSU blew the game open with just under seven minutes remaining, thanks in large part to red hot shooting from forward Kim Mestdagh. The sophomore hit five straight three-pointers in a matter of four minutes, helping the Rams to a 20-point lead with under three minutes remaining.
The Rams subbed out most of their starters for the remainder of the game and held on, pulling off an impressive 81-59 win.
Head coach Kristen Holt was pleased with the victory and said she wasn’t surprised Mestdagh could get that hot that quickly.
“I know she has the ability to shoot like that,” Holt said. “The big difference this year from last year is that she would have stopped shooting with a beginning like that, and she can’t. I told her ‘you have to get 15 shots if not more up’, so I’m happy she kept shooting. I was happy with her performance for sure.”
Mestdagh finished the game with 25 points, 21 off of three-pointers, after struggling to hit shots in the first half. Forwards Meghan Heimstra and Chatilla van Grinsven were also solid for the Rams, posting 18 points with 10 rebounds and nine points with 13 rebounds, respectively.
Mestdagh gave credit to her teammates for finding her when she was open and said she just had to keep shooting.
“Those were great passes,” Mestdagh, a native of Belgium, said. “In the first half the shots didn’t fall, but I had to stick with it. My teammates played for me, so that was great.”
Heimstra acknowledged that CSU’s win was only an exhibition game, but said the Rams are already a closer knit team than last season.
“It’s awesome, compared to last year especially,” the sophomore said. “We only grew from our first exhibition game last year. Judging on this, we’ll be a threat in conference.”
Holt agreed, adding that the Rams are already playing harder than a season ago. The second year Rams coach said this was as much as she could hope for from the first game of the season.
“If you had asked me before the game what the perfect scenario would be, I would have said win, and win by 20 or 30 points,” Holt said. “We kind of got to that point, but I don’t think this team will have problems scoring. With no seniors, new players and very little playing experience, I’m happy with the beginning.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.