The CSU womenâ€™s basketball team lost a last minute heartbreaker Wednesday night in a game that had conference tournament implications.
In Salt Lake City, the Rams (13-15, 6-9) fell to the Utah Utes in a game that came down to the wire, 61-59. The frustrating loss knocks CSU out of contention for fourth place in the Mountain West with the conference tournament right around the corner.
â€œIt is disappointing, it was a game we had in our grasps,â€ senior Bonnie Barbee said.
The first half went decidedly in the favor of the Utes (14-15, 7-8) who jumped out to a commanding 36-26 lead in the opening stanza. Utahâ€™s conference-leading scorer, sophomore Iwalani Rodrigues, came out firing from beyond the arc, hitting four threeâ€™s and accounting for 14 points.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play great on either end of the court, offensively or defensively,â€ Barbee said.
Rodrigues ended with a game-high 23 points, hitting 6-of-10 shots from three-point land against a below average defensive outing for the Rams.
â€œ(Rodrigues) had a great game,â€ junior Kim Mestdagh said.
The second half started with much of the same with the Utes jumping out to a 13-point lead with 16 minutes to play.
Mestdagh then took over, scoring all 22 of her points in a thirteen-minute span to get the Rams back into the game, trimming the deficit to 58-53 with two minutes left.
â€œWe wouldnâ€™t have been in the position to win the game if (Mestdagh) didnâ€™t do what she did,â€ Holt said. â€œShe put the team on her back.â€
With nine seconds left CSU freshman Sam Martin put the Rams up by one point off a Mestdagh steal. But Utahâ€™s Rodrigues iced the game hitting clutch free throws near the end to seal a 61-59 win for the Utes.
Mestdagh carried the Rams offensively while also accounting for nine rebounds and six assists. Barbee had a solid night as well, notching 11 points and five assists.
â€œ(Barbee) did a nice job, she has been shooting it well,â€ Holt said
The Rams will head home for the regular season finale against San Diego State on Saturday. After being physically dominated by the Utes, Holt will look for a tougher effort by her team this weekend.
â€œWe got shoved and pushed around a lot,â€ Holt said.
With the conference tournament coming up, the Rams have no time to mull over the loss.
â€œWe have to bounce back,â€ Holt said. â€œThere isnâ€™t enough time left in the season.â€
Womenâ€™s basketball Beat Reporter David de Besche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.