Courtesy of Braidon Nourse

LAS VEGAS – An unforgettable third quarter was enough for No. 5 Colorado State to rally and beat the No. 4 Nevada Wolf Pack in the quarterfinals of the 2024 Mountain West Women’s Basketball Championship on Monday.

After trailing by as many as 10 at one point in the second quarter, the Rams were able to claw back to a three-point deficit at halftime. But what followed can only be described as:

Hannah Ronsiek. Shot-making,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said after his team rallied back to win 65-54.

CSU closed the deficit and took a lead quickly thanks to a McKenna Hofschild layup and Ronsiek’s first 3 of the game. After not hitting a single shot the whole first half, Ronsiek went 6-for-7 (5-for-5 from 3) in the second half, scoring all 19 of her points to go with six rebounds.

The quarter ended with a 22-5 scoring advantage in favor of the Rams, who led by 14 at the end of the period as a result.

“We were just telling everyone to maintain confidence, especially (Ronsiek),” Hofschild said of the Rams’ halftime message. “Just keep shooting the ball. So when we came out in the second half, we were confident in the game plan, we were confident in each other. So just coming out and trying to start with some energy, start off hot, that’s what happened in that third quarter.”

Hofschild was the lone bright spot for the Rams in the first half, tallying 15 points to keep her team in it. She finished with 21 points and eight assists.

On the other side, Audrey Roden gave the Rams fits of their own, logging multiple steals and 14 of her 19 points in the first half. She also logged three rebounds, two steals and a block.

“I thought we really battled in the areas where they probably had the advantage,” Williams said. “They kind of beat us up on the glass a few times this year. I like the fact that we did cause the turnover ball there in the first half. Roden was really good. She was really playing well and getting downhill and getting into her pull-up. And I thought we did a nice job on her in the second half.”

Ronsiek bought into what Williams wanted her to do defensively in the second half, but she said she still lacked confidence in her shot after missing all five of her shots in the half. Williams told her to just keep shooting and that she would “probably go 5-for-5.”

She did exactly that in the third quarter.

“I think it was just seeing the ball go in one time,” Ronsiek said. “When I was able to hit that two, I think the hoop got a little bit bigger for me, and also just my teammates and coaches gave me a lot of confidence, and they were always saying, ‘You got the next shot.’”

The final piece of the puzzle was sophomore guard Marta Leimane, who quietly posted 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. In total, the guard trio of her, Hofschild and Ronsiek combined for 53 of CSU’s 65 points.

A starting trio which didn’t emerge until late in the season, but one Williams has certainly enjoyed coaching and watching, especially as it culminated into a performance like this one in the Mountain West quarterfinal.

“Guard play is really big in a tournament setting,” Williams said. “I thought all three of those kids were really, really good tonight. They’ve been good for a while now. The thing that they’ve been doing really well through the last seven, eight games, scoring has been fairly consistent, but we’ve been guarding better, too.”

The Rams will play against top-seeded UNLV in the first semifinal Tuesday. UNLV has won both matchups this season, but only by an average margin of four points.