The CSU women’s basketball team (7-14, 2-6 MWC) lost its third straight conference game Saturday afternoon against the San Diego State Aztecs (14-5, 5-2 MWC) in San Diego, Calf., 62-61.
“It’s really a disappointing loss,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “It’s probably stinging more than any other loss this year because I felt like we had it down the stretch, but that is the best game we’ve played all season. I’m really pleased with the team’s effort today.”
For the third consecutive game the Rams found themselves down by 10 points in the first half, only to fall in the final seconds.
“It’s a really hard loss and we all know deep down inside that we are making strides,” junior forward Juanise Cornell said. “We’re getting a lot more confident. Our shooters are shooting, our drivers are driving. We’re playing within our roles.”
However, it was SDSU who was forced to mount a comeback in the final seconds. SDSU’s Jen Layton-Bailes rebounded a missed shot by her teammate and hit a layup with three seconds left on the clock, sealing the Ram’s sixth MWC loss.
The Rams were up by three with 47 seconds on the clock after freshman Meghan Heimstra, who received her third consecutive start, stole the ball and hit a jumper at the other end of the court.
Sophomore Bonnie Barbee could have been considered the player of the second half. Barbee put the Rams in the lead by one with two minutes left in the game after sinking a three-pointer. Barbee went four for four from three-point range in the second half.
“I was shooting with my dad and he said I was jumping forward in my shots,” Barbee said. “So I changed that and it seemed to work.”
The Rams went up by eight points, their biggest lead of the game, with six minutes on the clock after senior Britney Minor connected on one of her two free throw attempts.
SDSU shot 52 percent from the field and CSU completed 32.4 percent of their shots in the first half as the Aztecs took a 34-27 lead.
However, it was the Rams who came out fired up, going up 5-0 in the first two minutes of the game and not relinquishing the lead until halfway through the first half.
Sophomores Zoi Simmons and Barbee led the Rams in scoring against SDSU with 12 points apiece. Cornell had a great game as well adding 10 points and five rebounds to her credit.
The Rams witnessed a season-high in offensive rebounding with 22. CSU dominated SDSU on the boards, out-rebounding the Aztecs 48-29. Minor led the Rams in rebounding with nine.
“You look at the stat sheet and think we should have won that game based on the numbers,” coach Holt said.
CSU continues to improve in free throws going 13-15 from the line.
The Rams will now begin the second half of MWC play against the TCU Horned Frogs next Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.
“If we can compete with San Diego State, who I think can be right there at the very end in the Mountain West, that shows that we can play with anybody,” coach Holt said.
Tipoff for that game will be 5 p.m. CST.
Coach Holt will give the team a three day break to relax before getting back on the court for practice Wednesday.
“I don’t even want them touching a ball or seeing each other for a few days,” coach Holt said.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at email@example.com.