The road to the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West Tournament just got a little more difficult for the Rams, as they lost their second consecutive game Wednesday night in New Mexico, falling 53-45.
CSU (12-15, 8-4 MW) managed to keep the contest close in the first half, going into the break trailing 26-24, despite senior standout, and MW preseason player of the year Kim Mestdagh shooting 2-for-12 from the field.
â€œI didnâ€™t have my shot (in the first half) so I tried to go off the dribble,â€ Mestdagh said. â€œInstead of stopping to pull up, I went all the way, and made it harder for myself to finish the shot.â€
New Mexico (9-17, 3-9 MW) came out of the break by going on a 9-1 run in the second half, from which the Rams could not recover.
CSU was out-rebounded by New Mexico 20-11 in the second half, as New Mexico had three different players grab seven or more rebounds for the game.
â€œI donâ€™t think we anticipated where the shot was gonna go and what was gonna happen,â€ said Sam Martin of the Ramsâ€™ struggles on the boards. â€œWe kind of just let them go get the loose balls, and the 50-50 balls.â€
Despite the disparity in rebounding, CSU mounted a comeback of sorts late in the second half behind Mestdaghâ€™s nine consecutive points scored at the end of the game.
The Rams pulled to within five points of New Mexico after Mestdagh hit a three-pointer with 1:33 left in the game, but New Mexico kept CSU at bay, answering every Rams score the rest of the game.
Part of the reason CSU struggled to stay in the game was the lack of scoring from its role players. Martin and Mestdagh scored 15 points each, but only three other players contributed offensively, with none of them scoring more than seven points.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t say it was easy for either one of them,â€ CSU coach Kristen Holt said of Mestdagh and Martinâ€™s scoring. â€œThen we just didnâ€™t have anyone else. We didnâ€™t have anyone else contributing anything offensively.â€
The loss denotes a struggle the Rams have had all year, as their road record on the season now moves to 3-10, compared with a 9-3 record at home for the year.
â€œI think our energy is not as good as at home,â€ Mestdagh said. â€œItâ€™s kind of immature if you canâ€™t get ready for a game on the road.â€
Next, the Rams will try to maintain their second place standing in the MW when they host San Diego State at Moby arena on Saturday in their last home game of the year before finishing the regular season at UNLV on Feb. 29.
â€œThese last two games are huge,â€ Martin said. â€œWe still have all of our goals in front of us, theyâ€™re still achievable, and just getting these two wins would really help put us in a good spot for the tournament.â€
Women’s basketball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Who: CSU vs. New Mexico
- Result: CSU:45 UNM: 53
- Next: San Diego State vs. CSU
- Where: Moby Arena
- When: Saturday, 2 p.m.