Rivalry games bring out the best in teams.
While the Northern Colorado Bears dominated the first half of Thursday nightâ€™s game, the Colorado State womenâ€™s basketball team got the last word.
The Rams beat rival Northern Colorado 73-66 thanks in large part to an inspired second half.
The Bears (2-6), who led by as many as 12 points, set the tone early with their physicality, which seemed to take the Rams out of their game.
â€œWe came out not doing what we usually do and we let them be the aggressors,â€ freshman forward Sam Martin said.
Defensively the Bears did a solid job confusing the Rams early in the game, holding Rams junior guard Kim Mestdagh to just 4 points in the opening half.
â€œNo one was moving,â€œ Mestdagh said. â€œI wasnâ€™t moving, and they really knew how to play us,â€ Mestdagh said.
But momentum shifted late in the first half when the Rams went on a 14-4 run to close the frame. After adjustments made by head coach Kristen Holt at half time, the team came out with great energy and took over in the second half.
â€œCoach Holt told us not to play their game,â€ said Rams sophomore Meixandra Porter. â€œTo be the aggressors, play together and play our game.â€
Mestdagh led the Rams offensively after the intermission, scoring 21 of her game high 25 points in the second half.
The Rams capitalized on a physical Bears team whose opponents average 27 free throw attempts a game.
CSU hit 18 of 25 shots from the charity stripe, which proved instrumental in their late game surge.
The win extends the Ramsâ€™ winning streak to five games â€“â€“ their longest since 2004.
It also improves the team to 5-2 on the season, giving them the best record in the Mountain West Conference.
While they are pleased with their record and the winning streak, the team remains focused on the â€œone game at timeâ€ mentality.
â€œWe have to come in and work everyday and just focus on our next opponent,â€ Porter said.
Rivalry week continues for the Rams as they travel to Boulder on Wednesday to take on the Buffaloes.
Tip-off for that game is set for 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by the menâ€™s game.
â€œTheyâ€™ll (CU) be ready to go against us. It brings out the best in both teams.
It will be a good game,â€ Holt said.
Sports writer David De Besche can be reached at email@example.com.