By Luke Siggins
On a night when Colorado State University Pueblo had seven players, on the second game of a back-to-back, they were able to rally and beat South Dakota Mines (8-13) to improve their record to 13-10 overall and 11-6 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Senior Jennah Knafelc led the team in scoring with 18 points, shooting 6-for-14 from the field and 3-for-8 from the three-point line. She also logged 39 minutes for the night. Freshman JaNaiya Davis led the team in assists with five. She also tallied 15 points and 9 rebounds.
CSU-Pueblo came out firing in the first half. The largest lead by South Dakota was two points in the first quarter; Leading only for 1:23. CSU-Pueblo led the rest of the game for 37:16. CSU-Pueblo’s lack of depth was tested with Khiya Adams getting into foul trouble. She got two early fouls in the first quarter.
This forced Coach Curtis Loyd to go to a smaller line up. Lauren Heyn also picked up an early foul. “I didn’t plan on going small, but with both my girls in early foul trouble, I had to make it work.” Loyd said.
CSU-Pueblo switched the game plan from working the post, to playing hard physical defense and running in transition to get their shooters open. “I’m always going to try to set up the offense, my defense plays a big part in that, we are a defensive team first,” Davis said.
Davis knocked down a half-court shot at the end of the first quarter. “We practice that shot, so I just let it go and hoped for the best,” Davis said. CSU-Pueblo had their highest scoring quarter after this, “I think it may have gave us energy (the shot), but we just go out there and play as hard as we can every quarter,” Davis said.
CSU-Pueblo’s scoring fell off in the second half, getting outscored in both quarters by SD Mines. “I think fatigue played a factor, at least for me in the second half, I felt it more in my legs,” Knafelc said.
Coach Loyd said, “I never intend to play anyone 39 minutes, but sometimes it’s how it has to be, the girls should be conditioned at this point in the season,” Loyd said he is happy to have players who know their role, “Everyone knows what they have to do to be successful on this team,” Loyd said.
CSU-Pueblo’s next game is on Friday, Feb. 15 at UC-Colorado Springs. CSU-Pueblo hopes to bounce back after their loss 59-67 to UCCS on Feb. 2.