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Rams Leave Air Force in the “No Fly Zone”

In a season marked with milestones for Colorado State women’s basketball, Wednesday’s matchup against Air Force Academy presented the opportunity for the Rams to extend a two-game win streak.

Air Force was met with a 37-point outing from Hofschild, tying her career high set last season against UNLV. The Rams notched an 81-67 victory at home, shooting 52.6% from the field on 30-of-57. They also went 10-of-19 from three, coincidentally shooting 52.6% from beyond the arc.

However, this was no ordinary home game for the Rams. Two key defensive components, Marta Leimane (concussion and a split nose) and Hannah Ronsiek (broken nose), both injured in the previous battle against New Mexico on Monday, did not play Wednesday.

To top that, Coach Ryun Williams made a change the defense which guard McKenna Hofschild simply put as “unheard of.” That change was the implementation of a zone defense.

Williams is historically allergic to the idea of his Rams running a zone defense. However, with prompting from players like Hofschild, it was finally put into action against Air Force.

“I will say we’ve been asking a little bit to play zone, we wanted to try it, so it was kind of fun to try that,” Hofschild said, “I thought we did a pretty good job for that being our first time ever.”

Defensively, the Rams perimeter defense was concrete. Their efforts kept the Falcons shooting 25% on 6-of-24 from beyond the arc.

Williams did at times seem to express a bit of frustration on the Rams defense, specifically in the paint. The culprit of this frustration was the Falcon’s Madison Smith. The 5-foot-8 guard quickly found cutting routes for easy jump shots and layups. Smith led the Falcons in scoring with 31 points, 22 of those inside the arc.

However, in the end, Williams clarified that he was not bothered by the scoring from inside.

“I think some of their paint shots, they were just driving right by us, and they spread us out, you know, but that was fine,” Williams said, “They made six threes – they made six three tonight. That’s not going to beat us.”
Air Force felt the trampling power of the Rams early, calling their first timeout just 3:22 into the first quarter. The Falcons’ first shot fell with only 4:56 left in the first. They finished the half shooting 37% on 11-of-30 compared to the Rams 47% on 14-of-30.

Throughout the matchup, the Rams were quick to react in transition, and aggressively searching for open shots, as Hofschild picked up another near double-double with eight assists on top of the career tying night shooting.
Sydney Mech also played a crucial role in scoring for the Ram’s, totaling 17 points on 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from three.

The second half started with even less production for the Falcons. They put up a mere 15 points in the third quarter, while the Rams knocked down 26. By the end of the game, the Falcons shot 41% from the field on 28-of-68.

In the previous two bouts between these teams, the games ended marginally close. In the 2022-23 season. The Falcons on January 28 secured a 67-65 win at home. The Rams settled the score on February 18 at home in a 64-67 victory.

These close games delivered the motivation which the Rams needed to notch the 14-point win Wednesday.

“Airforce is one of those teams where you just got to respect them, they’re so tuff,” Hofschild said, “Coming into a game against them you cannot take anything for granted. I thought they battled really well, but I thought we battled even harder.”

The contest between the Rams and Falcons showed the resilience of the Rams squad. Despite William’s historical resistance to running a zone defense, the Ram’s ability to adapt defensively due to changes in lineup because of injuries allowed for a commanding victory over the Falcons.

Following the win, Colorado State is now 12-4 overall, 3-2 in The Mountain West Conference. Their home record increased to 7-2, increasing to a three-game win streak.

The Falcons flew out of Moby arena with a record of 9-10 overall 2-4 in The Mountain West. Their losing streak extends to two, with their previous 64-76 defeat against UNLV at home.

The next time these teams are set to play is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 31 at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, CO.

The Rams’ next game is set to play at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 20 against the Wyoming Cowgirls in Laramie, WY. Wyoming is currently 9-7 overall, 4-1 in The Mountain West.