When the CSU women’s basketball team welcomed the Brigham Young Cougars to Moby Arena Saturday, the Rams knew from the very beginning that winning would be difficult.
The Cougars (19-6, 10-2) are at the top of the pack in the Mountain West, having won eight of their last 10 games. The Rams (7-18, 2-11) came into the game in the conference cellar, just one game ahead of last place and on a three-game losing streak.
In the end, the high powered Cougars offense and lock-down defense proved too much for the embattled Ram team, as BYU continued its MWC dominance with a 67-50 win.
Coming out of the locker room down just six points at the half, the Rams struggled to maintain their energy and tempo, allowing BYU’s dangerous outside shooters open looks.
The Cougar’s first four field goals in the second half were 3-pointers, driving what started out as a six-point lead up to a 10-point lead midway through the second half.
From there on out it was all BYU, as they went on a 16-6 run to close the game and put the nail in the Rams hopes of a comeback.
The Cougars were led offensively by forward Danni Wright, who finished the game with 22 points and six rebounds. Guard Jennie Keele added 16 points and 6 boards of her own.
CSU Head Coach Jen Warden said that trying to stop the talented BYU team was made even more difficult by the fact that they were able to adjust to the Ram’s defensive game plan, shooting more threes instead of looking to score inside.
“They have got nice balance,” Warden said. “(BYU coach Jeff Judkins) does a great job of recruiting players to his system. The machine just continues to roll, year after year.”
The Rams finished the game with four players in double figures, but just five total points from everyone else. Forward Juanise Cornell and guard Emily Neal each had 12 points, center Marilyn Moulton had 11, and guard Sara Hunter finished with 10.
Cornell, who also had 10 rebounds to give her the team’s only double-double, said after the game that BYU is a great team, but with the way that CSU played they are still confident about their chances in the weeks to come.
“They are the No. 1 team in our conference for a reason,” Cornell said. “But it is not a question of if we can beat them, we can.”
The Rams showed some of that fire early in the game. After allowing BYU to jump out to a 19-11 lead in the first four minutes, CSU mounted a bit of a comeback. Riding a 12-0 run with about 5 minutes left in the half, the Rams tied the score at 30. It was the last time the score would be tied.
BYU regained their composure and rattled off 11 quick points, sending the Rams into the locker room down 41-35.
After the game, Warden talked about the importance of the loss.
“I didn’t feel like we came out of the gates with the energy that we should,” Warden said. “This was the big one that we needed to break all ties for tournament seeds.”
As the Rams head into the last two weeks before the Mountain West Conference Tournament, Cornell said that each game gets more and more important.
“A win would have put us in good position for the tournament, but we can still get there if we win our last three,” Cornell said. “And we do plan on winning all three.”
Women’s basketball beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BYU Min FGM-FGA REB A P
Johnsen 33 3-4 0 3 9
Wright 28 7-12 6 1 22
Riley 20 3-4 4 0 6
Keele 32 6-8 6 2 16
Gillespie 32 3-15 4 4 8
Slade 28 1-7 4 2 2
Cheesman 13 0-1 1 0 0
Judkins 3 0-0 0 0 0
King 8 2-5 2 0 4
Rice 1 0-0 0 0 0
Faddis 2 0-0 2 0 0
CSU Min FGM-FGA REB A P
Cornell 40 6-13 10 2 12
Moulton 37 3-7 3 0 11
Hunter 40 3-12 2 2 10
France 8 0-0 0 1 0
McFarland 19 1-4 1 0 3
Neal 32 4-5 5 3 12
Finley 19 0-1 1 0 0
Mason 5 1-3 0 0 2