Good things come in three’s. Well at least that is the case for the Colorado State University-Pueblo women’s basketball team.
For the third consecutive year the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves claimed the RMAC Shootout title by defeating number one seeded Fort Lewis College, 61-60.
The Pack got a huge effort from RMAC freshmen of the year Katrina Selsor who was efficient on the floor shooting 80 percent (12-15), including being perfect from beyond the arc in her three attempts.
Selsor finished the day with a game-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
CSU-Pueblo (20-10) also got help off the bench from senior guard Kami Dahlberg. Dahlberg entered the game as an early first half substitution for senior guard Kristi Arness and made her presence felt immediately.
Dahlberg got in sync quickly with a layup in the lane before connecting on three 3-point attempts to open up an 11-point lead for the ThunderWolves.
“We knew we all had to do our part,” Dahlberg said. “Everyone was just doing their part.”
Fort Lewis (30-3) would keep the game close though, cutting the CSU-Pueblo lead to eight at the half, trailing 34-26.
As all teams do the Skyhawks were poised for a run in the second half. Behind senior forward Alison Rosel, the Skyhawks were able to make a run at the ThunderWolves to keep the game close.
With 45 seconds remaining in the game and the ThunderWolves up one point with possession of the ball, Rosel stole the ball from Pack forward Amanda Bartlett to give the Skyhawks the chance to take the lead.
On the next play Rosel would come up big again scoring the go-ahead layup to put Fort Lewis on top with 32 seconds remaining.
The game was now in the drivers seat of the ThunderWolves who looked to their freshmen sensation to make a play.
Selsor received the ball at the top of the key and drove to her right where she tossed in a layup over two defenders to give the ThunderWolves the lead, 61-60, with three seconds remaining.
“When the ball came to me I just tried to take it as hard as I could and do it for my team,” Selsor said.
After a desperation 3-point shot from Laura Haugen fell short, CSU-Pueblo could finally celebrate its third consecutive RMAC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament.
“To do what we’ve done this week, to win on the road, and knocking off two number one seeds back-to-back,” said coach Kip Drown, “this one was extra special because of that adversity.”
The win was also CSU-Pueblo’s first over the nationally ranked Skyhawks in three tries this season. In the previous two games the ThunderWolves lost in the regular season at Fort Lewis, 82-68, before dropping a thriller to the Skyhawks at home, losing 64-59.
Rosel led the Skyhawks down the stretch shooting 79 percent (11-14) and finishing with 24 points. Haugen was the only other Skyhawk to net double digit points, ending the game with 15 points.
CSU-Pueblo had three players named to the all-tournament team with Dahlberg and senior center Caitlyn Jewell being name to the team. Selsor was also honored for her play by receiving MVP of the tournament.
With the win CSU-Pueblo stamped its ticket to the national tournament with a No. 7 seed. The ThunderWolves will play No. 2 seed Wayne State (Neb.) in Durango, Colo., when the tournament kicks off Friday.
CSU-Pueblo is seeking its first ever win in the national tournament.