The CSU womenâ€™s basketball team gave its seniors a proper parting gift from Moby Arena on Saturday in the form of a 66-51 win over San Diego State.
Seniors Bonnie Barbee, Sarah Hemmings, and Zoi Simmons were honored before the game with flowers and a picture with their parents.
â€œMy last memory of Moby Arena is a win where we were down and then the team pulled together,â€ Barbee said.
The winâ€”coupled with a Utah loss to UNLVâ€”clinched the #4 seed in the Mountain West Conference Championships this week in Las Vegas.
â€œI hoped when the season began that we would finish in the middle of the pack,â€ CSU head coach Kristen Holt said. â€œBut with all thatâ€™s happened I donâ€™t know that I wouldâ€™ve had enough faith to think that that would happen, so Iâ€™m just really pleased with the kids.â€
The Rams (14-15, 7-9 MWC) trailed by eight points at halftime before scoring the first five points in the second half to cut the deficit to just three points.
Freshman Sam Martin tied the score at 40 with 13:56 left in the game, and junior Kim Mestdagh gave the Rams a 44-42 lead a minute later. The Rams would not relinquish the lead from that point forward.
Martin finished with 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the team in scoring, with Mestdagh adding 19 points to go along with six rebounds and five steals.
â€œI think Mestdaghâ€™s pretty consistent,â€ SDSU head coach Beth Burns said. â€œThey get her shots and sheâ€™s making a high percentage of them.â€
The Rams outscored the Aztecs 40-17 in the second half while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and playing strong defense.
â€œWe came out really aggressive and really strong and we just got at them,â€ Mestdagh said.
Martin led the team with 13 points in the second half while making 5-of-9 field goals.
â€œIn the second half we came out and played our game,â€ Martin said. â€œWe got our momentum going and energy is a really big part of our team and thatâ€™s what we had in the second half.â€
The Aztecs led by as many as eight points in the first half, holding CSU to 33 percent shooting and forcing eight turnovers.
â€œThe first half was icky to coach,â€ Holt said. â€œI didnâ€™t feel like there was any energy from the crowd, from the bench, from our team.â€
The Rams will play the #9 seed Air Force Falcons Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the first round of the conference tournament.
CSU swept the season series with the Falcons, winning by nearly 14 points per game.
â€œIt probably doesnâ€™t matter too much who we play in that first round,â€ Holt said, â€œEvery teamâ€™s going to be ready to play and weâ€™ve got to be ready to go.â€
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.