BOISE, Idaho - Overcoming a nine-point deficit midway through the first half, Colorado State silenced the Broncos' offensive prowess, with a 71-51 victory at Taco Bell Arena Wednesday night.
The win is CSU's (21-4, 13-1 MW) most ever in Mountain West action. The Rams created more separation between them and second-place Boise State (14-10, 9-4 MW), now 3.5 games ahead of them in first place in the league standings. The team is off to its best start in 15 years, tying the most victories since the 2002-03 campaign.
The Rams got off to a slow start on offense, scoring just once in the first seven minutes of the game, resulting in a Broncos' 9-0 run. Freshman Ellen Nystrom stopped the drought with a pull-up jumper, and from there CSU went to work, on a 13-0 run, taking the lead with just over five minutes to play in the half. The team closed out the first frame with another 9-0 run, totaling a 24-4 streak in the final 11 minutes of the half.
"Our man was really good once we got into it," Head Coach Ryun Williams commented. "It was not the start that we usually have. I was really surprised on how we came out a little loose with the basketball and just a little on edge not really all that prepared. But this group they do show good poise. Their composure was solid. We kind of got into the game mentally and we started making some plays."
CSU suffered a small scare early in the second 20 minutes of play when the Broncos' closed the gap to just three, but the squad maintained its focus with a better shooting percentage, specifically from deep, converting six three-pointers, increasing their lead to as many as 22 points.
Gritt Ryder was the first to double figures, with 12 points on the night. AJ Newton led the team with 15, Caitlin Duffy tallied 11, and Elin Gustavsson was two rebounds short of a double-double with 10 points and eight boards.
Sam Martin was hit with two fouls in the first eight minutes of the contest, forcing her to take a seat. AJ Newton followed her lead just two minutes later, removing two of the Rams' starters from the court for much of the first stanza. The two each earned their third penalty before anyone else on the team was whistled for their first with 17 minutes to go. Martin fouled out for the third time this season with seven minutes remaining.
Subbing in for Martin, Emilie Hesseldal was stellar on defense, with three steals in just eight minutes in the first stanza. She ended the evening with three thefts, a career-high.
Turnovers were an issue for both teams, however, as the Broncos reached their season average of 15 by halftime, and the Rams tallied nine after the first 20 minutes of play. Luckily for Colorado State, the Broncos were unable to convert off the Rams' giveaways, with just two points off turnovers in the game. CSU took advantage of its opportunities with 25 points of the Broncos' giveaways.
Coming off a career-best 33 points at New Mexico, Boise State's leading scorer, Deanna Weaver, was held to just two points. The Bronco's Lexie Der led the team with 20 points.
Colorado State wraps up its two-game road trip on Saturday in the first installment of the Border War. Tipoff vs. Wyoming is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT. You can catch the game LIVE on KIIX AM 1410, or online with iHeartRadio at kiixcountry.com/listen.