Mar 062006
Authors: Stacey Zynen

The CSU women's basketball team opens the Mountain West Conference Tournament at 5 p.m. at the Pepsi Center in Denver against the No. 9 seeded San Diego State Aztecs. After an upsetting loss to Air Force on Saturday, the Rams secured the No. 8 seed with a record of 8-19, 2-14 in conference. The Aztecs are 3-23 overall and 0-16 in MWC regular season play.

This is the first time the Rams have faced the Aztecs at a MWC tournament, but they hold a 2-0 record against SDSU this season. CSU won the MWC tournament in 2001 and holds a 6-5 record in MWC Championship games, compared to the Aztecs who are still looking for a tournament win.

Despite the two victories over the Atzecs this season, the Rams know they have to come out and play with everything they've got if they plan on continuing in the tournament.

"Everybody's 0-0; our record doesn't matter now," said senior point guard Vanessa Espinoza in an interview with the Coloradoan. "Really, it's anybody's game now. They may be 0-16 but who cares? They could still beat us."

This will be the last MWC tournament for the three seniors who have left their mark in CSU women's basketball history. Vanessa Espinoza, Melissa Dennett and Lindsay Thomas have surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers, making it the first time three players have reached the milestone in the same season. Dennett and Thomas are tied for fifth in school history for career double-doubles with 19 each. They also recently became the most prolific blocking duo with a combined tally of 186. Espinoza is ranked fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage in the conference this year.

With only one player averaging double-digits in scoring, SDSU will look to Michelle Strawberry to lead the team in the contest. Strawberry was named an honorable mention all-Mountain West Conference selection for the second consecutive season. She averages 13.2 points per game, ranking her eighth in the conference for scoring as well as rebounds (5.5), respectively. Junior Desiree Johnson leads the Aztecs in boards with 5.6 per contest and has recorded 36 blocks for the season to lead the conference in blocked shots.

The winner will play top-seeded BYU at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The game can be seen on CSTV.

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