RMAC Shootout Championship: CSU-Pueblo 61, No. 4 Fort Lewis 60
PUEBLO, Colo. - For the third consecutive season, CSU-Pueblo defied the odds to capture the RMAC Shootout championship, becoming just the third team in conference history to three-peat.
But this one was different. For many reasons.
In defeating its designated playoff foe in Fort Lewis, the fourth-ranked team in the nation and likely host of next week's NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament, of which CSU-Pueblo earned an automatic bid with Saturday's 61-60 win, the Pack showed amazing perseverence in overcoming adversity with the 2010 RMAC Championship.
The ThunderWolves entered the 2010 RMAC Shootout without its top scorer in Rachel Espinoza (Jr., Pueblo, Colo.), a first-team all-RMAC selection this season who was lost in the first two minutes of the Pack's RMAC quarterfinal win over Fort Lewis. Instead of rolling over, the Pack rallied and allowed others to rise to the top to lead the team, first past Colorado Christian in the RMAC semifinals and then Fort Lewis Saturday night.
Against Fort Lewis, the star for the ThunderWolves was Katrina Selsor (Fr., Glenwood Springs, Colo.), who somehow managed to top her 19-point, 15-rebound performance against Colorado Christian Friday night with a career-high 28-point effort Saturday. She was unstoppable, going 12-for-15 from the field, and making the big plays the ThunderWolves needed down the stretch.
With 2:29 remaining in the game, CSU-Pueblo had a 59-51 lead, but Fort Lewis managed to go on an 8-0 run to seize the lead, 60-59, with 32 seconds remaining.
With one possession left and trailing by one, Selsor took the call, going coast-to-coast to sink a layup with three seconds left, icing the Pack's 61-60 victory.
Though the shot secured the Pack's third title, and the fourth for CSU-Pueblo head coach Kip Drown, he said this one stands out.
"What this group accomplished is special, with all the adversity they faced, and it's going to hold a special place with me for a long time," Drown said.
Selsor nabbed RMAC Shootout MVP honors, and was joined on the all-Shootout squad by Caitlyn Jewell (Sr., Pagosa Springs, Colo.), who had eight points and five rebounds on the night, and Kami Dahlberg (Sr., Peyton, Colo.), who scored three big three-pointers in the first half, part of her 11 points overall, that have the Pack nearly a double-digit advantage it would maintain for the greater part of the game.
Next on the Pack's docket is the Central Regional Tournament, which will likely be held in Durango, Colo. at Fort Lewis College. The ThunderWolves will find out their first-round opponent Sunday night when the NCAA announces seedings for the field of 64 in the Division II National Tournament.