Rams Have Answer, Claim WNIT Opener
Colorado State women’s basketball trailed for 28 minutes Thursday but the Rams’ relentless effort defensively spurred a huge second half comeback as they were able to overcome the sharpshooting Western Illinois, defeating the Leathernecks 67-64 in the first round of the WNIT.
“That was a March Madness type of basketball game,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “Western Illinois is a very difficult team to defend. A lot of shooters, a lot of passers and a lot of guard play. I thought we did a great job in the second half, defensively.”
CSU scored 27 points in the fourth quarter but the Rams really struggled offensively for the majority of this contest. Had it not been for their stifling defense, Williams’ Rams likely would have had their season come to an end. Instead, they will head to South Dakota, Williams’ alma mater.
“A lot of friends will be there,” Williams said. “A lot of people that supported me, coach Amber Cunningham (assistant coach) and coach (Chad) Lavin (Director of Administration) during our times there. Obviously there will be some fun, strong emotions.”
Williams did admit that he really did not know this current South Dakota team but he is excited for a chance to coach in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center for the first time. The 6,000 seat arena opened in 2016.
Williams also joked that is he excited to get a good steak from Red’s Steakhouse in Vermillion, S.D.. “They’ve got some good stuff there,” Williams said.
But if the steak dinner is going to be celebratory, Williams knows his squad will have shoot the basketball with more consistency. The team’s best shooter this season, Stine Austgulen went 0-of-8 from the field, missing seven 3-point attempts in the game. The team as a whole made only 6-of-22 3-point attempts (27.3 percent).
Going up against a premiere team like the South Dakota means the Rams will not be able to afford shooting slumps. The Coyotes are 27-6 overall and 15-1 in their own arena this season.
“I thought in the fourth quarter we showed some courage and toughness,” Williams said. “I think we’re back in the groove now. Hopefully we can go to Vermillion and get a good win.”
The Rams and Coyotes will tip at 12 p.m. MT Sunday. This is the second consecutive season the Rams have advanced to the second round of the WNIT. In 2017 the Rams lost 58-57 in a heartbreaker against UC Davis.