|Posted February 20, 2010|
Espinoza's dramatic steal keys Pack win
CSU-Pueblo 73, Western New Mexico 71
In pressure situations, great players make great plays.
Saturday, facing a dire situation, Rachel Espinoza (Jr., Pueblo, Colo.) stepped up.
The ThunderWolves, trailing 71-70 at Western New Mexico with 24 seconds remaining and the ball in the Mustangs' hands, Espinoza intercepted the inbound pass, driving for a layup-and-one, forcing the foul and converting a three-point play, carrying the ThunderWolves to a dramatic 73-71 win.
Espinoza's heads-up play came on the back of a dogfight between the ThunderWolves and Western New Mexico, a repeat of their first meeting of the season Feb. 4, when the Mustangs rode a dominant second half to push an overtime period, losing to the Pack 88-78 at Massari Arena.
In the rematch, the Mustangs were determined to push the ThunderWolves again, and did so by dominating the first half, carrying a 36-33 lead into halftime, shooting nearly sixty percent from the field.
But CSU-Pueblo, which turned in their flattest performance of the season in losing at New Mexico Highlands Tuesday, were also determined to get the win and resuscitate their changes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
The Pack rebounded in the second half, overtaking the lead 2:24 into the half on a three-pointer by Amanda Bartlett (Jr., Kiowa, Colo.), giving the Pack the 41-40 advantage.
CSU-Pueblo held that lead, extending it to as much as 10, but saw it disappear down the stretch.
After Katrina Selsor (Fr., Glenwood Springs, Colo.) nailed a three-pointer at the 5:18 mark, part of her double-double 12-point, 12-rebound night, Western New Mexico seized control.
The Mustangs embarked on a 10-0 run, six points of which came on foul shots, and Western New Mexico suddenly had a 71-68 lead with just 37 seconds left.
After Selsor missed a foul shot, she made a big rebound and set up a short-range jumper by Caitlyn Jewell (Sr., Pagosa Springs, Colo.) that brought the Pack within one, 71-70, setting up Espinoza's heroics, the final points of her 22-point evening.
The ThunderWolves' win was a huge one - the Pack needed to keep pace with Adams State, who remained a game up on the ThunderWolves in the standings after they posted a win over Western State Saturday. The Pack also got back on a winning note, needing to keep racking up W's to get notice for the NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament.
CSU-Pueblo will look to build on the win next weekend, when it travels to Mesa State and Western State to close out the regular season.