Tonight another in-state rivalry beast will bare its head, and
try to sink its teeth into the Rams. The Rams (3-3) will travel to
the University of Denver (3-1) for a battle for in-state bragging
rights. After starting the season with three straight wins, the
Pioneers suffered an embarrassing 95-61 loss to Idaho State this
past weekend. The loss was the worst defeat for the Pioneers since
2002, when they only scored 29 points to 85 against that season’s
future NCAA Champion, the University of Connecticut.
The Rams started their season in a way similar to the Pioneers.
The Rams jumped on their first three opponents, but have
experienced a slight skid beginning with a loss to Boston College
in the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational Nov. 29 at Moby Arena. The
last game for the Rams was Dec. 6 against the Oregon Ducks. Playing
at the Rose Garden in Portland, the Ducks handed a 50-62 loss to
the Rams. With the fresh taste of defeat in both the Rams’ and the
Pioneers’ mouths, this game should be a dogfight. According to Rams
starting point guard Vanessa Espinoza, Denver is not a team to be
“DU is a pretty decent team, and they are going to be gunning
for us,” Espinoza said. “Plus there is always an added incentive if
they beat the bigger university.”
The pioneers are led by junior guard Tasha Jones and senior
forward Ragan Neblett. As the top two scorers on the team, Jones
and Neblett need to step up the scoring attack tonight in order to
avoid a second straight loss. The last time the teams met the Rams
squeaked away with an 84-83 victory at home.
One of the Rams’ top scorers, center Lindsay Thomas, seems to
have her and her team’s winning strategy memorized.
“This is an in-state rivalry, so we’re going to have to come out
playing hard from the get go,” Thomas said.
“Everyone knows their role,” Espinoza said, “We know that their
won’t be a couple of us carrying the team, everyone has to do their
part. Everyone has to contribute.”
But one thing is certain: tonight two hungry teams, the Rams and
the Pioneers, will tip off at 7 p.m. and fight for a win.