Mar 072004
 
Authors: Katrice Thomas

The Colorado State women’s basketball team entered a match up

with New Mexico as one of the hottest teams in the Mountain West

Conference. The only problem, the Lobos have been even hotter and

were putting their seven-game winning streak on the line in front

of 17,472 fans at The Pit in Albuquerque.

The last victory for the Rams at UNM was in 1998 and the curse

of The Pit continued, as the Rams fell to New Mexico 59-52. The

loss secures the number four-seed for the Rams (17-10 overall, 8-6

in MWC) in the Mountain West Conference Tournament, which begins

Wednesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

New Mexico (20-7, 12-2) meanwhile, won a share of the

conference’s regular-season title and the tournament’s top

seed.

“I’m really proud of the kids for the way they played,” Head

Coach Chris Denker said in a press release. “The atmosphere here

was amazing with 17,000 fans and we controlled that atmosphere the

entire game.”

The match was a scorcher as the teams fought fire with fire. New

Mexico jumped out to an 8-2 lead three minutes into the game before

the Rams battled back taking a 10-8 lead.

The two teams traded blows over the next eight minutes before

the Lobos hot shooting went ice cold.

They hit just one field goal in the final 9:19 of the first

half, while CSU senior forward Joy Jenkins scored 13 straight, to

help the Rams outscore New Mexico 14-2 and head to halftime with a

28-17 lead.

The Lobos relit their flame and the battle continued in the

second half. UNM sophomore Abbie Letz helped the Lobos finally

break through with a rally late in the game.

The Rams lead was 47-41 at the 5:10 mark, when Letz knocked down

back-to-back 3s to tie the game. Following a bucket by Melissa

Forest, Letz scored again to give UNM a 51-47 lead with 2:48 to

play.

“Our defense was really solid all game long,” Denker said. “We

only broke down defensively three times, Letz’ two 3-pointers and a

Forest lay-in.”

Colorado State cut the lead to three twice in the final minute

of play, but New Mexico went 8-for-8 from the free-throw stripe to

secure the victory. Even with the loss the Rams coach commended his

team’s play.

“We outrebounded this team by 10 and I’m really pleased with how

our team is playing right now,” Denker said.

Melissa Dennett led the Rams with 17 points, Jenkins added 14,

and Vanessa Espinoza chipped in 11.

Senior Jasai Ferrucho broke Erin Thorn’s (formerly of Brigham

Young) MWC record for assists in a conference season. She ended the

league season with 53 assists, breaking the previous record of

52.

New Mexico had four players top double digits in scoring. Forest

led the Lobos with 20 points and 12 rebounds, Letz scored 14 and

juniors Lindsey Arndt and Mandi Moore chipped in 10.

UNM opens tournament play against eighth-seeded Air Force at the

Pepsi Center and Colorado State will face Wyoming in the first

round on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

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