Late rally hurts women's basketball at Colorado State
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – For most of the season, it's been a tale of two halves, but for the first time in quite a while it was the first half where the Northern Colorado women's basketball team came out firing. Unfortunately, Colorado State outscored the Bears 41-29 in the second half for the 73-66 win.
The Bears (2-6) had four players score in double figures, led by junior forward Kaisha Brown with 15 points. Brown has now made four three-pointers in each of the last two games. Freshman guard D'shara Strange scored 14, sophomore forward Lauren Oosdyke chipped in 13 and senior guard Courtney Stoermer scored 11, with nine in the first half.
"I thought we played pretty intense and made some great shots in the first half," said Head Coach Jaime White. "We came out tonight extremely focused. I don't think we started the second half the way we did in the first half. They (CSU) pushed up their tempo inside in the second half."
For the second-straight game, Brown also led the club with seven rebounds. Stoermer had a game-high five assists and both she and Victoria Timm had two steals. The Bears shot much better from the field than last weekend in California, shooting .414 for the game and .421 from the three-point line. The team also connected at a .769 clip from the free throw line.
Kim Mestdagh led all players with 25 points, hitting five three-pointers in the second half. Sam Martin scored 14, Chatilla Van Grinsven added 13 and Meixandra Porter added 10 for the Rams. Martin led the game with nine rebounds, while Van Grinsven had three steals and three blocks.
Early in the first half, Stoermer hit her second three-pointer of the game, moving into sole possession of second place in Northern Colorado history with 144 three-pointers. She passes Heather Barbour (2003-07) who made 143. With her four triples in the game, she has 146 for her career and is now just 27 shy of holding the all-time record.
The Bears 37 points in the first half is the most this season in the first 20 minutes and the .464 field goal percentage is the third-best mark this year, with the other two both coming in wins. Both teams went on several runs in the first half, as the Bears used two seven-point and one nine-point run to build the lead and the Rams had a seven-point and a 12-point run to close the gap to five points at the break, 37-32.
Mestdagh took over for the Rams in the second-half, scoring 22 of her 25 points, including all five of her three pointers and two of those were from NBA range.
"We tried three different defenses on Mestdagh," said White. "We didn't think she could score off the drive and she proved us wrong. They got some big offensive rebounds to keep them going and that cost us."
With 3:48 remaining in the game, Kirsten Hess went up for a jumper and on the rebound, the officials blew the play dead. The two teams went to the bench for the final media timeout not knowing what the call was. After several minutes of watching the replay monitor, the officials called Hess for the intentional foul and Mestdagh made one of two free throws and CSU retained the ball. The official ruling on the play was Hess continued to push off after the play was called dead and that is a new rule this year, resulting in the technical.
From that point on, the Rams outscored the Bears 8-6 to hang on for the 73-66 victory.
"They were a lot bigger than us inside and we paid for it," said White. "Lauren did a great job of putting the ball on the floor and going to the basket and she was very undersized. I thought we ran the offense a ton better than we have the last few games. Any time you can get four players in double figures you think you're in good shape. We need some of the other players to get those 5-6 points to help us out.
The Bears return to the hardwood of Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on Saturday, hosting South Dakota Mines in the first of a double-header. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:05 pm while the men's team follows 30 minutes after the conclusion against Black Hills State.
"This team has a lot of potential and a lot of heart," White concluded. "I think it's only up from here. We've got some real positive times ahead of us."