DENVER, Colo. - CSU-Pueblo used a gritty defensive effort to outlast Metro State in a slugfest, winning 57-50.
To the naked eye, CSU-Pueblo was dominated defensively, getting out-rebounded 50-35, but the real story was all about shot selection in a bruising affair.
The ThunderWolves encountered a Metro State team that was beastly on the offensive glass, gathering a remarkable 28 offensive rebounds and seemingly extending every offensive possession.
Despite that, the ThunderWolves pieced together a superior defensive effort, exhibited a solid control of the paint to force the Roadrunners into the bad shots all night.
Post Katie Nehf (Jr., Broomfield, Colo.) imposed her 6-foot-2 frame on Metro State all night long, gathering a school record six blocks and nearly single-handedly forcing the Roadrunners outside.
As a result, Metro State was just 2-for-20 from three-point range and shot just 27.8 percent from the field overall.
"We got pounded on the glass hard," CSU-Pueblo head coach Kip Drown said. "But we gave up a lot of shots that we wanted to give up and the right people were taking them. Defensively we did the things we wanted to do."
CSU-Pueblo, meanwhile, was consistent shooting the ball from all locations on the court, especially down low, as it shot 50 percent from the field overall and even a workmanlike 5-for-13 (.385 three-point percentage) to seemingly always give the Pack the advantage, especially in the second half.
Offensively, the ThunderWolves were led by Paige Ramm (Sr., Prescott, Ariz.), who scored 16 points. She was highly effective, shooting 5-for-7 from the field and 5-for-6 on free throws.
Meghan White (RFr., Katy, Texas) played a key role off the bench, coming on when Taylor Fox (Sr., Santa Cruz, Calif.) got into foul trouble and emerging with nine points and six rebounds, establishing a solid presence down low.
"She gave us a life then Taylor was in foul trouble," Drown said. "She's a very talented kid and it comes together for her."
Overall, though, Drown said the key was the Pack's mindset in this game. All game long, whether it was offensive rebounds or Metro State's first half lead, CSU-Pueblo always seemed to be able to handle adversity.
"We have challenged our kids to be tougher, handle adversity, handle times when we don't score and when other teams go on runs," Drown said. "Three years ago, we lost this game by 10 or 15 points. But we're developing maturity, especially with these four road wins. We got down, kept battling, and knew things would break for us."
With the victory, CSU-Pueblo is off to its first 4-0 start in conference play in 25 years, dating back all the way to 1988, when the ThunderWolves won the regular season RMAC championship.
The Pack will return home next weekend when it hosts Western New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands at Massari Arena.
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