Mar 7, 2010 2:29 AM
ALAMOSA, Colo. (March 2, 2010) - Losing your top player to injury can be a horrible omen to a team. Especially in a playoff game.
But Tuesday night, CSU-Pueblo used it as an opportunity to come of age and show its maturity as a championship-caliber basketball team.
In an RMAC Quarterfinal showdown at Adams State College in Alamosa, the ThunderWolves overcame an early injury to Rachel Espinoza (Jr., Pueblo, Colo.) and stepped up their game across the board, scoring a 70-61 win over the Grizzlies and earning the right to play in the RMAC Shootout at the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo Friday night.
Espinoza left the game just two minutes in, and the ThunderWolves responded to the loss of their point guard by taking Adams State's all-everything point guard, Vero Jo Bustos, out of the game. Bustos, who buried six threes in the Grizzlies' 17-point win over CSU-Pueblo at Adams State earlier this season, was just 1-for-10 in the first half, scoring just two points. Bustos finished with just four points on the night.
With the scales evened between the two squads, Katrina Selsor (Fr., Glenwood Springs, Colo.) elevated her game to become the team-leader on the floor in the first half, going for 10 points and seven boards in the first half alone in leading the Pack to a 37-26 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Pack's second point guard, Kendall Babler (So., Rifle, Colo.), picked up where Selsor left off, scoring nine points and registering three assists. Babler was joined by Erica Hicks (Fr., Lakewood, Colo.), who picked a heck of a night to have her best collegiate game, sinking two threes and going 5-for-6 in the second half for all 12 of her points on the night.
Overall, despite the roadblocks in their way, the end result was truly never in doubt. The Pack opened up a double-digit lead 15 minutes into the game, and largely held it throughout. The only threat came late in the game, when Adams State closed the advantage to six points with 1:36 remaining. But that would be as close as the Grizzlies got in a game that was all ThunderWolves.
CSU-Pueblo will move on to the RMAC Shootout at the Colorado State Fair Events Center in Pueblo Friday, when it will face Colorado Christian at 7:30 p.m.