Nov 302004
 
Authors: Bob Fernandez

The CSU women's basketball team (4-1) used a late-game offensive surge to knock off the Pepperdine Waves (1-4) and improve its home record to 4-0 Tuesday night at Moby Arena.

Sloppy play plagued the first half for the Rams. After getting off to an 11-6 start at the 15:17 mark of the first half, the Rams struggled to make a basket, only scoring 12 points during the remainder of the half.

Going into halftime, the Waves led 26-23. The Rams shot only 25.7 percent in the first half, compared to 40.9 percent for Pepperdine. CSU committed 10 turnovers and only had four assists. The Waves had five assists and also had 10 turnovers.

"We were getting good looks (in the first half), they just weren't going in," said junior forward Lindsay Thomas. "The only thing you can do is keep shooting, and they fell in the second half."

The Rams came out of halftime with better execution on the offensive end. They began the second half with a quick 4-0 run to cut the Waves' lead to 27-31 at the 18:32 of the second half.

The Waves responded by stretching their lead to 39-33 with 14:14 remaining in the game. Freshman guard Sara Hunter, who scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting in the first half, drilled a 3-pointer at the 14:02 mark to narrow the lead to 36-39. After several defensive stops in a row, junior forward Melissa Dennett sank a layup to tie the game at 50-50 with 5:19 remaining in the game. The Rams outscored the Waves 14-8 the rest of the way to secure the win.

CSU head coach Chris Denker said he was pleased with how the Rams played in their tightest game of the season. The Rams' previous three wins were by an average of 27.3 points per game, and their lone loss to Notre Dame was by 22 points.

"I was very happy that our kids were able to come through late," Denker said. "(The team) just stepped up when they needed to make some big plays."

CSU was led by Hunter's 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Thomas, the reigning Mountain West Conference player of the week, recorded her fourth double-double in five games by pouring in 10 points and grabbing a team-best 12 rebounds. Dennett scored eight points and pulled down 11 boards.

Pepperdine senior forward Jennifer Lacy led all scorers with 21 points but was held to only six points on 2-of-9 shooting in the second half.

Hunter drilled four 3-pointers in the second half, including three in the game's final six minutes, and finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the 3-point stripe.

According to Denker, Hunter was hesitant to shoot during the first half and he urged the freshman guard to shoot more in second half.

"Sara's a great player," Denker said. "She just needs to relax and play. You can tell she was hesitating a bit (in the first half). She hit a really big shot when we needed it and kept us in the game in the second half."

Hunter was coming off a one point (0-of-6 shooting), three assist and four-turnover performance against Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday during the Rocky Mountain Invitational tournament at Moby.

"I came in a little hesitant tonight after a shaky performance last weekend," Hunter said. "After halftime, I didn't think about it as much and just had fun."

The Rams will return to action Saturday when they take on Texas-Pan American at Moby at 2 p.m.

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