The CSU women’s basketball team (7-16, 2-8 MWC) lost their fifth consecutive game 53-51 Wednesday night in another close matchup against the BYU Lady Cougars (16-5, 6-3 MWC) inside Moby Arena.
“We have six games left and I just want the team to continue to stay focused and motivated,” said head coach Kristen Holt. “It is the time in the season when you kind of get draggy, for every team, because it has been a long haul, especially with losing. There is improvement and we just have to get ready for the next one.”
The game came down to a last second layup attempt by senior forward Britney Minor that could have sent the game into overtime.
“I missed it. I went up and I felt the girl move out of my way to purposely not foul me and I just blew it,” Minor said.
Sophomore Bonnie Barbee pulled the Rams to within one point after she connected on two free throw attempts with less than one minute left on the game clock.
However, Mindy Neilson put the Lady Cougars back up by two when she sank one of her two free throw attempts after being fouled by Barbee with 14 seconds left on the clock.
BYU was able to go on a 10-0 run in seven minutes of play late in the game. Junior forward Juanise Cornell negated BYU’s run with two free throws to pull the Rams back to within four points.
In the second half, both BYU and CSU nearly doubled their field goal percentages from the first half. The first half of play was a mostly defensive game for both teams, ending with a score of 20-17.
“We have been playing good defense this whole week,” Minor said. “We have been working on going out and playing hard and tough with energy with every possession. That was our focus because if we didn’t play defense we wouldn’t be in the game,”
“I thought our effort was really good in the first half. We were diving on the floor and scrapping,” coach Holt said. The Rams and Lady Cougars had a tough time getting any of their shots to drop and both teams ended the half shooting under 30 percent from the field.
For the game CSU shot 34 percent from the field, while BYU connected on 32 percent of their shots. BYU had the most looks at the basket with 61 attempts, but the Rams defense did a great job, allowing the Lady Cougars to only sink 20 of those shots.
“We made them take tough shots, which I think showed a testament to our defense. We just gave up a lot of open threes at the end, which was nine points in the last 10 minutes. It was a great defensive night, just not in the last few minutes and that is what killed us,” Cornell said.
Cornell ended the game the leading scorer and rebounder for the Rams with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Minor and Barbee had good games, as Minor totaled eight points and four rebounds and Barbee connected on two three-pointers and two free throws, giving her eight points on the night.
The Rams made the most of BYU’s 19 personal fouls last night, going 15-19 from the free throw line.
Next up for the Rams will be their second home game in a row against the UNLV Lady Rebels Saturday afternoon. The Rams defeated UNLV in their first matchup of the year in Las Vegas, 70-69.
“If we can play for 40 minutes Saturday against UNLV, there is no doubt in my mind we can beat UNLV. We just have to want it bad enough,” Minor said.
Tipoff for Saturday’s game is 2 p.m.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.