The CSU women’s basketball team finished the Collier’s International Tournament in Berkeley, Calif., 1-1 by defeating the Southern Illinois Salukis 62-53 Sunday afternoon.
Kim Mestdagh, the Mountain West Conference’s leading scorer, poured in a career-high 30 points while matching her career-high rebounds with nine to go along with four assists and three steals.
“She’s probably our greatest competitor and one of our hardest workers,” CSU head coach Kristen Holt said of Mestdagh. “It’s nice to see a kid like that show the things that she’s shown (us).”
The Rams opened the second half up trailing 27-25, but used a 7-0 run halfway through the period to give themselves some breathing room and eventually hold out for the win.
In the first half, SIU kept things close by scoring 13 points off of 15 CSU turnovers.
“We had some bad moments, but in the end we came out with the win,” Mestdagh said. “It was a tough win on the road, so we’re very happy.”
On Saturday the Rams went toe-to-toe with nationally ranked Cal, but fell 78-44. On the positive side for CSU, sophomore Meghan Heimstra posted her fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite the tough loss, there was much to be gained in the game against a superior opponent. Most importantly, it helps CSU prepare for its forthcoming conference schedule.
“Certain teams that we’ve played are not at the level of what our conference is going to be,” Holt said. “You just have to play a variety of games and in wins or losses we certainly want to try and learn things.”
During the game against Cal, the Rams shot only 26 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers – errors that doomed them to a blowout loss.
“You get punished for every mistake,” Mestdagh said of the Golden Bears’ defense. “We learned that we just need to keep going and stay confident the whole game.
Sophomore Natalie van den Adel said that against Cal, the Rams lost confidence in the second half.
Holt feels that the tournament in Berkeley will help prepare the Rams for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got to see what the really good teams are like, we got to play against it,” she said, “It’s the only thing that’s gonna make us better. We just have to continue to get better and improve.”
Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.