FORT COLLINS, Colo. – After a four-game conference stretch, Colorado State will switch to its last scheduled non-conference opponent, Denver, for two games. First, the Pioneers travel up I-25 to Moby Arena for a Sunday noon tip. The Rams return the favor and play DU next Friday at 6 p.m. in the Hamilton Gymnasium.
Taking 3-of-4 from two top-4 projected Mountain West teams, including the reigning champions, has gained the league’s attention to the Rams who now stand at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference – CSU’s best start since 2016-17. Pace and scoring are the biggest difference for these Rams as they have scored over 70 points in all six games, already equaling last season’s total.
Last time out, Colorado State swept San Diego State at home with only two points separating the final scores, although game two needed two overtimes. Senior guard Lore Devos notched her second and third double-double of the season to lead the Rams in scoring, but it was by far not a one-person band. In game one, sophomore guard McKenna Hofschild, NCAA’s assist leader, tallied a career-best 19 points and dished out seven assists. On Thursday, redshirt sophomore Sydney Mech blocked seven shots to tie NCAA’s top mark this season, while senior guard Jamie Bonnarens came off the bench to drop 15 points.
“We are coming off two tough conference games where we found a way to win,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “There were times that’s we executed well, especially down the stretch, but also we learned about some aspects to work on. We gave the team the day off yesterday to get their legs back under them and to freshen the mind. As a group, we must quickly regroup to face this Denver squad that just handed Colorado a loss on their court, proving they are more than capable of doing the same to us if we are not prepared. We practiced this morning prior to the men’s game, so we now have the rest of Saturday to relax and be ready bright and early on Sunday.”
The Pioneers (2-2), led by first-time head coach Doshia Woods, were picked to finish seventh in The Summit League and had no preseason all-conference players, but are proving much tougher than the forecast. In the season opener, DU delivered a 16-point loss to Air Force on the road. After close loses to Northern Colorado and Wyoming, DU went up to Boulder to defeat Colorado on two last second free throws from freshman Claire Gritt. Sophomore Meghan Boyd dropped a career-high 29 against the Buffs.
RAMS NOTEBOOK (Full Game Notes Attached)
• The Rams’ success cannot be pinned to one player as all five projected starters have notched career-high points along with other top accolades. Tori Williams is amid a career-best streak of six double-digit scoring games thanks largely to her NCAA second-best 3-ball total. McKenna Hofschild has spilled into double digits four times after having a high of nine points coming into the season, but her best asset is her NCAA leading assist total. Sydney Mech ranks third nationally in blocks and is coming off a seven-block performance which ties the season-best mark in NCAA. Lore Devos has three double-doubles after coming into the season with one such game. Ellie Boni leads all MW freshman in scoring.
Sharing the Rock
• The Rams are second in the NCAA in assists (108), and fifth in asst/turnover ratio (1.83), while on top of the Mountain West in apg (18.0). McKenna Hofschild’s 10 assists in the season opener ties 13 other NCAA DI players as the fifth-most in a single game. Her 39 total assists and 6.5 apg rank No. 1 in the MW with the next closest player at 20. Hofschild is already almost halfway to Tori WIlliams’ top assist number from last year (87). Her 4.33 assist/turnover ratio is third in the conference.
• The Rams lead the NCAA in blocked shots (41) and their 6.8 bpg ranks ninth. In the MW, the next closest team has 16. Off redshirt and showing a prowess in swatting is Sydney Mech who has a league-high 14, checking in third nationwide. Lore Devos (10) and Ellie Boni (5) follow at second and third in the conference. Devos had 10 blocks all last season, while Boni had a fourth quarter block on Haley Cavinder in the Rams win on Dec. 3.
More of the Matchup | Denver at Colorado State
• Last season, DU finished 15-15 overall with a 9-7 conference record. The Pioneers return 10 letterwinners and three starters. Not included in that bunch is their returning scorer and rebounder.
• Leading scorer, sophomore Meghan Boyd has scored over 20 in three of four games.
• Back in her sophomore season, Lore Devos recorded her first double-double against the Pioneers with 21 points and 10 rebounds. During her freshman season, Devos scored nine in her seventh career game.
• CSU’s Sydney Mech spent her freshman year at DU, playing the most minutes in her freshman class. Five Pioneers from the 2018-19 team still remain, including two in Mech’s freshman class; Anna Jackson and Tsimba Malonga.
Second Quarter Surge
• Early on, the Rams are showing their quarter of separation is the second quarter. In the opener, CSU outscored Regis 31-13 and in game two against Colorado Christian it was 30-6 for a combined total of 61-19. Colorado State outscored Fresno State in both second quarters. In all, the Rams have bested their opponents 127-90 in the second frame. In four of the six second quarters thus far, CSU has scored 20+ points.
• In the season opener, Cali Clark and Ellie Boni got the starting nod, becoming the first two freshmen to start the season’s first game since Ellen Nystrom and Elin Gustavsson did so in 2013-14.
• Facing off against MW’s defending champion Bulldogs and the all-conference Cavinder twins, Boni more than held her own. She averaged 34 minutes and 13 points in the two contests. Showing off no qualms for tough situations, Boni hit buzzer-beating shots to close the third quarter in both games.
Series History: Colorado State – Denver
Overall: CSU leads, 21-9
In Fort Collins: 13-4
In Denver: 8-5
Current Streak: CSU, 6
Last Meeting: DU 79, CSU 84 in Fort Collins (12/21/18)
Largest Margin of Victory: 72; DU 21, CSU 93 in Fort Collins (1/9/75)
Largest Margin of Defeat: 19; CSU 58, DU 77 in Denver (12/7/05)
A Colorado State Tuesday & Thursday Win Would Mean…
• First 6-1 start since 2015-16 when the Rams went 31-2 overall and undefeated in the Mountain West at 18-0.
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