After a rough loss at Front Range foe Denver last Wednesday night, the CSU women’s basketball team focused on nothing but getting its season turned around in its next game against CU-Boulder.
Some Rams even went as far as prematurely saying “we are going to win.” But that was not the case Saturday afternoon in Moby Arena as CSU fell to arch rival Colorado 82-47 in front of a mixed crowd of 1,356.
Despite not holding a single lead in the ball game, the Rams (1-7, 0-0) played arguably some of their most solid basketball of the season the first 18 minutes of the game, as they held CU’s All-American forward, Jackie McFarland, to only six first half points while coughing the ball up four times.
CU (4-2, 0-0) took advantage of the Rams’ game plan of taking McFarland out of the picture through either guard penetration of the lane for a layup, or by getting the ball to the low-post and watching CSU’s zone suck in, before hitting a wide open Brittany Spears or Susie Powers on the perimeter to take a wide open 3-pointer.
“I felt we were really feeling it out from the first half, a lot of players stepped up waiting for (CSU’s) zone to break down.” McFarland said. “Early on I felt like I always had one, two bodies on me the whole time so in the second half I was just waiting for the openings to show and convert the points when I had the chance.”
At the half, CSU was only down by 12 points, 32-20, thanks the Rams’ defense forcing 15 turnovers to help make up for shooting only 7 for 35 from the field. But it was the zone breakdown that McFarland referenced to that once gain killed CSU.
In the second half CU never let CSU close in on the Buffs halftime lead, as CU’s Spears started things back up with a 3-pointer in their first possession, which sparked what almost seemed like a 20 minute run if it were not for the Rams’ 12-2 run at the 9:55 mark thanks to four consecutive 3-pointers by Sara Hunter, Bonnie Barbee-who had two 3’s and an assist during the run-and Lauren Young, which cut the lead from 28 to 19 and revived what was left of the fans in attendance.
Still, the Rams never cut the lead any closer than 18. In fact, Hunter’s layup at the 5:03 mark to come within 21 was CSU’s last two points of the contest, as the Buffs rallied off 14 in a row.
“Bonnie is our best true-scorer on this team,” Hunter said. “As a scorer myself it makes things ten-times easier to get attention deflated from me, as selfish as that sounds. It’s awesome to play with Bonnie and if what we need is to have (someone else at the two-guard), Bonnie would be the first person I would go to.”
The possibility of Barbee earning a significant amount of more playing time in the future is not the only lineup change CSU could see before they play host to Pacific on Tuesday. Carine Reimink’s recent scoring slump has made coach Jen Warden seriously consider replacing her with a different starter at the forward position. The leading candidate for that role would be Young. The 6-foot-2 freshman had 10 points on Saturday-including two 3-pointers-to go along with her 5 rebounds and blocked shot.
“Young keeps producing and producing and producing,” Warden said. “At the end of every game she has numbers, deflections, blocks and steals and she’s established herself as an inside presence. Our staff is really keying in on her as a contributor.”
It seems as if it’s going to take some sort of huge change in order get the season turned around, and the possibility of lesser-known faces becoming more familiar on Tuesday could be just the thing.
Sports writer Matt Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.