Following an ugly loss to BYU on Wednesday, the women of CSU basketball bounced back by defeating UNLV at home on Saturday, 65-49.
CSU led by as many as 23 in the second half as they used a 9-2 run to put the game out of reach. Junior guard Zoi Simmons capped the run by hitting a fast break jumper to give the Rams an 11-point lead that never fell to single digits for the rest of the contest.
Sophomore guard Kim Mestdagh scored 23 points for CSU, 17 in the first half, to go along with four rebounds and two steals.
â€œI got really good screens, my teammates were looking for me,â€ she said.
It was a career day for freshman Chantel Kennedy, who came close to her first career double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs.
â€œAs a guard thatâ€™s only (5-foot-7), thatâ€™s just tremendous for her to get ten rebounds and tonight she hit some shots,â€ Head coach Kristen Holt said. â€œ(Itâ€™s) really good because I think one area that Chantel lacks confidence is the offensive end as far as her shooting.â€
The Rams only shot 27 percent from the field in the first half, but still managed to lead by seven when the horn sounded. Both teams started the game with cold shooting; the first points were scored after nearly three minutes had gone by.
CSU got on the board with 16:40 remaining in the first half after Kennedy stumbled on the fast break and threw the ball over her head backwards hoping for a foul. None was called, but the shot rolled in.
â€œI was determined to get to the basket,â€ she said, â€œGod was on my side with that one.â€
Freshman guard Mia Bell led the Rebels with 10 points on three of five shooting. CSUâ€™s defense held UNLVâ€™s top three scorers to a combined 13 points, more than 20 points below average.
â€œI thought our defense was pretty good,â€ Holt said. â€œWe were energetic, getting steals, getting transition opportunities.â€
The Rebels shot 30.4 percent from the field on the afternoon and only six percent from beyond the three point range.
Saturdayâ€™s victory was CSUâ€™s fourth consecutive against UNLV, all coming under the direction of Holt.
â€œUNLV is a team that can be really good,â€ Holt said. â€œI felt it would come down to who was hungrier and who would do the â€˜effort statsâ€™ the best.â€
The Rams dished out 14 assists and brought down 45 rebounds, 13 of which came on the offensive end.
â€œToday we were actually doing stuff as a team so it was actually really fun,â€ sophomore forward Meghan Heimstra said. â€œWe were getting assists and things were happening, like steals. It was just a lot more fun and upbeat than the other games weâ€™ve been playing lately.â€
The Rams play New Mexico on Wednesday in Albuquerque. Earlier this season, CSU defeated UNM 67-60. The win was the Ramsâ€™ first over the Lobos in 13 years.
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.