After 14 straight wins over Northern Colorado, the one thing CSU women’s basketball knew they could expect from the Bears was a fight.
And a fight was exactly what UNC provided.
Scratching and clawing their way through a game that saw only 98 total shots attempted and 14 traveling calls, the Rams pulled off a 59-48 victory. It was the first road victory of the season for CSU.
Kelly Jo Mullaney had a game-high 19 points and junior guard Sara Hunter added seven points and three assists as the Rams (3-5) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Senior forward Heather Barbour turned in 10 points for the Bears (2-6).
“We were two teams dying for a win,” Hunter said. “In the past, CSU has crumbled in situations like that. It was a big step for us to get a win tonight.”
Barbour helped open a strong start for the home team, scoring nine points in the first 10 minutes of competition to pull the Bears to a 19-12 lead.
The visiting Rams were shaky to start the contest, racking up several traveling and offense foul calls to aid UNC’s early run.
But CSU was able to pick up the pace late in the first half. Freshman guard Kelly Jo Mullaney sparked the Rams’ offense with eight points as the Rams held a 28-23 halftime lead.
Avoiding a similar start in the second half, the Rams pulled to an 11-point lead at 38-27 on a three from Mullaney.
But the Bears weren’t done, mounting a late charge to close within three at 42-39 on a three-pointer from freshman Sara Hemmings.
CSU slowed down the Bears for a while, pulling out to a 50-40 lead before UNC again caught a spark and came within five at 50-45.
Senior center Marilyn Moulton ended the run with a three-point play with 90 seconds remaining. CSU controlled the game from that point on.
“That was a big move,” Rams head coach Jen Warden said of Moulton’s play. “We had four three-point shooters against a zone and we were able to find her.”
According to Warden, the win not only stops the bleeding of a three-game skid, but also establishes confidence for a young team in future situations like this one.
“This was a really big mental step for our team, to step up and say ‘not tonight,'” Warden said.
Up next for the Rams is San Jose State, who comes to Moby Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Women’s basketball writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.