The Rams handed Northern Iowa (2-7) their seventh loss of the season Sunday afternoon, defeating the Panthers 55-53 in Moby Arena.
The Rams came into Sunday’s game with a 2-6 record after losing to Montana last Wednesday night and faced a UNI team that was on a five-game losing streak.
“Our defense did a solid job all game,” said head coach Kristen Holt. “I think we did a better job of moving the ball offensively.”
CSU pulled ahead of the Panthers by two after a free throw by freshman Kim Mestdagh with less than a second left on the clock.
However, out of 22 free-throw attempts for the Rams during the game, no two shots were more important than senior captain Kandy Beemer’s two free throws.
Beemer sank one from the line to tie the game at 53, and then Beemer hit her second attempt to give the Rams a one-point advantage.
“I was really excited that I had that chance,” said Beemer. “Kind of had the same situation against Wichita State and I blew it. I was glad to get the shots and I was confident.”
Sophomore Bonnie Barbee had two tense shots of her own from the line at the 1:43 minute mark. Barbee came off the bench to shoot the foul shots from Meghan Heimstra; after Heimstra took a hard shot from UNI’s Lizzie Boeck and had to come out of the game.
“I was thinking about the wrong thing,” said Barbee. “I was thinking about my free throw earlier that just clanked. So I had to take a really deep breath which is something I don’t normally do and just shoot them.”
Barbee sank her two shots to give the Rams 52-51 point lead until Kim Wypiszynski of UNI hit a jumper and the other end of the court to put the Panthers back in the lead.
The Rams and the Panthers tied the game nine times and traded the lead five times in the second half.
The first half ended with the Rams trailing UNI by seven, after the Panthers went on a 4-0 run before the buzzer.
The only Ram player to score in the first four minutes of play was Carine Reimink, who scored six points in that time.
Even in a loss, UNI managed to out-rebound the Rams, 50-38.
“First half we knew our rebounding was not that good,” said Reimink. “We knew we were not boxing out and we came out and Amaka (Uzomah) got some really good defensive rebounds and that made a difference.”
But even with the rebounding performance by the Panthers, the Rams held UNI’s offense to 29.9 percent from the field.
CSU improved their shooting from 31 percent in the first half to 44.4 percent in the second half. Barbee led the Rams in scoring with 11 points while once again Uzomah led the team in rebounding with seven.
“I think we took better shots and got inside more in the second half and we made them,” said Britney Minor.
The Rams have now passed their total number of wins last season with their third victory and are beginning to see more consistency from the team especially on defense.
“Our offense is a struggle but it is not from lack of effort,” said coach Holt.
“We have worked really hard and are trying to do what our coaches are asking,” said Beemer. “When situations come up like tonight, we go off in our own little world and we did not do that tonight.”
The Rams will resume play next Sunday against Creighton in Omaha, Neb. at 1 p.m. CT.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at email@example.com.