Feb 232005
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

The last time the CSU women's basketball team faced off against the Wyoming Cowgirls, it was a display of good defense and excellent shooting in the confines of Moby Arena.

When the two teams face off for the second half of the Border War tonight at 7 p.m., it will be in front of screaming Wyoming fans and a Cowgirls team looking for revenge.

The Cowgirls (14-10, 5-6) and Rams (14-9, 5-5) are locked in a tight race for a better seed as the Mountain West Conference Tournament draws closer.

"When you look at it from a tournament standpoint it is very important (to win this game)," said CSU assistant coach Jeff Dow. "If we could somehow sweep (Wyoming) that could come into play."

CSU is in fourth place in the standings behind New Mexico, Utah and Brigham Young. UNLV (14-10, 5-5) is just behind CSU in the standings after taking a game from Wyoming on Saturday.

The Rams broke a three-game losing streak with a win over San Diego State on Saturday and hope the momentum from the road win will carry through.

"It's what we needed. It gives us confidence," said CSU junior forward Melissa Dennett. "It's the best thing you can do, winning on the road."

Dow also said it was important to get wins on the road when the tournament will be held away from Fort Collins.

"You have to get comfortable playing outside of Moby Arena," Dow said. "We know this is one of (Wyoming's) best teams in years."

The Rams were able to hold the Cowgirls to a 27.9 shooting percentage in their 61-51 win on Jan. 28 and look to do the same tonight. Wyoming senior guard Ashley Elliott led her team with 28 points and played all 40 minutes of the game. No other Cowgirl reached double figures in points.

"If we continue to play defense like we have it's going to affect them, and keep their shots down," said CSU sophomore guard Annika Walseth.

The Cowgirls offense will not back down easily. Freshman forward Hanna Zavecz scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds in a win against SDSU Thursday. Junior guard Erin Hicks is the team's top rebounder with 7.3 per game.

Dennett said the most important thing for the Rams will be controlling the ball and getting big rebounds.

"We need to just beat them on the boards," Dennett said.

When the Rams out-rebound their opponent, they are 14-0.

"We need to keep our turnovers down," Dow said. "That is first and foremost important. We can't let the other players have big games as well."

While the Cowgirls have some good shooters, the Rams have firepower of their own. Dennett leads the team with 14.2 points per game and eight rebounds. Junior center Lindsey Thomas also has eight rebounds per game, and junior guard Vanessa Espinoza is averaging 1.4 steals per game.

There may be a few more Wyoming fans cheering for at least one of the Rams. Freshman guard Sara Hunter was born in Wyoming and still has family in the area, although she played high school ball in Fort Collins.

"A lot of my (extended) family will be at the game," Hunter said. "We have to go in focused. Any home court is an advantage, so I hope we can play through the adversity."

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