Colorado State University-Pueblo finally found their shooting touch just when they needed it.
The ThunderWolves knocked down six 3-pointers during a 27-4 second half run that turned an 11-point deficit into a 12-point lead and cruised to a 69-50 victory over Western New Mexico University.
“At halftime I told the team we had to rebound and start making shots,” ThunderWolves coach Kip Drown said. “Jonnie made a couple of threes and you could feel the energy growing and it carried over to our defense.”
CSU-Pueblo struggled against the Mustangs’ zone defense in the first half, shooting 7-27 from the field, including 2-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Western Mew Mexico was unable to take advantage of the ThunderWolves’ shooting woes. The Mustangs committed 16 first half turnovers, offsetting a solid 52 percent shooting performance.
CSU-Pueblo picked up their defensive intensity after Drown called a timeout with his team trailing 37-26 at the 18:01 mark in the second half.
“We got after it defensively and rebounded and then it all snowballed as we started making shots,” Drown said.
The ThunderWolves held Western New Mexico to a measly 13 points the remainder of the contest, including 7-33 shooting from the field.
“If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll win out,” ThunderWolves guard Michelle Ambuul said.
For the game CSU-Pueblo forced the Mustangs to commit 25 turnovers.
Mary Rehfield led all ThunderWolves scorers with 17 points.
The win was the third in a row for the ThunderWolves and their sixth in eight games to improve their overall record to 17-8 and 11-6 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. The ThunderWolves two losses during the streak have both come against second-ranked Fort Lewis College.
With two games remaining in the regular season and a spot clinched in the RMAC postseason tournament, CSU-Pueblo still has hope of hosting a first-round tournament game.
Coming into tonight’s contest, Western New Mexico had four players averaging double digit points, but the high-scoring Mustangs were held 20 points below their season average of 70 points. The Mustangs managed only 20 points in the second half.
The loss dropped Western New Mexico to 8-16 overall and 6-10 in RMAC play.
The win reversed a trend for the ThunderWolves. Going into tonight’s game, CSU-Pueblo had been 2-8 when trailing at halftime.
Western New Mexico led 30-24 at intermission.
Mary Rehfield moved into fifth-place on the ThunderWolves’ all-time scoring list with 1,190 career points.
CSU-Pueblo will have the next eight days off before hosting 12-11 Western State on Friday, Feb., 27 at Massari Arena.