Loveland – Professional basketball has made its way to Northern
Colorado, bringing with it long hair, pretty shooting strokes and
even prettier athletes.
The National Women’s Basketball League kicked off its first
season in Colorado Saturday night when the Colorado Chill (1-0)
took on the defending NWBL Champion Houston Stealth (0-1) in front
of a boisterous 3,240 announced attendance at the Budweiser Events
“I thought the atmosphere was great,” said Stealth forward Tina
Thompson, who scored 22 points in 38 minutes. “The crowd support
for a first-year franchise was very impressive.”
Aside from the Chill’s 83-72 victory being the first
professional basketball game played in Northern Colorado, another
factor contributing to the large fan turnout was the local flavor
the Chill has on its roster.
Five of the team’s 16 players played college basketball at CSU,
including the school’s all-time leading scorer Becky Hammon, who
did not play Saturday due to injuries, CSU’s second all-time
leading scorer Katie Cronin, who scored 17 points and had a
team-high 9 rebounds, and former all-conference players Teresa
Hinz, Angie Nelp and Shannon Randles.
Three other players, Shawna Hawes, a graduate of Poudre High
School; Jenny Roulier, a graduate from the University of Colorado;
and Edna Campbell, former player of the Colorado Xplosion of the
now defunct Associated Basketball League, also have ties to
In an intense and physical game, it was the 35-year-old
Campbell, who showed her experience down the stretch to lead the
Chill to victory.
“Edna has only been with us five to six days,” said Chill head
coach and former CSU assistant Jade Strohm. “She is a great leader
who speaks up when she needs to speak up and who knows how to
control a game. She turned it on tonight.”
Indeed she did, leading the Chill with 24 points in 29 minutes,
while shooting 9-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-6 from 3-point
Though physical play characterized the game, it did not begin
Both teams jumped out of the gate shooting the ball with a
precision that would make their counterparts in the NBA jealous.
Colorado came out hitting nine of its first 13 shots, while the
Stealth was 7-for-11. That changed, however, as the defenses
Over the final 13 minutes, 7 seconds of play in the first half,
the Chill went into a deep freeze, making four of its final 22
attempts, while Houston shot a respectable 7-for-15 over the same
stretch. The cold shooting spell turned a 26-17 Colorado lead into
a 36-33 deficit at halftime.
Contributing to the cold shooting was the pushing and shoving
that took place underneath the basket.
“You adjust to the way the game is being played,” said Houston
head coach John Chancellor said. “When you’re on the road it’s
going to get rough. They’re going to let the players play the
With both teams trading baskets during most of the second half,
Strohm decided to implement a press in an effort to force Houston
turnovers. The strategy paid off.
“We know our defense is what’s going to win us games,” said
guard Allison Curtin, whose layup off the opening tip represented
the first two points scored in the team’s franchise history. “We
wanted it more.”
While the Chill wanted ‘it’ more, the Stealth’s players just
wanted more calls on their side of the floor.
“(The officials) let a lot of things go,” said Houston guard
Tamicha Jackson, who led all scorers with 25 points on 11-of-16
shooting from the floor. “They didn’t call it on both ends. I felt
like they missed a lot of calls for us.”
Thompson, who left the game during the second half after taking
an elbow to the chest, concurred.
“The refs were letting ’em play on (the Chill’s) end of the
floor, but not on our end,” she said. “The refs have the ability to
control the game and that’s what they’re here for … not to
determine the outcome, but to protect the players.”
Regardless of the physical play, the game entertained those who
made the trip to see it and those who were a part of it.
“This is my new home,” said Stealth head coach John Chancellor.
“This is a great crowd, a great arena and a great place to play
basketball. It was exciting down to the end.”
Indeed it was.