It’s often said that losing and winning are both habits, so it’s no surprise when junior guard Sara Hunter says the CSU women’s basketball team is “dying for a win.”
CSU is hoping to break a trend after three consecutive losses when it heads to Greeley to face the Northern Colorado Bears today at 7 p.m.
For the Rams (2-5), the most painful thing about the losses is that all three easily could have, and perhaps should have, been wins.
First was CSU giving up a 14-point halftime lead against Western Carolina in a 64-60 loss Nov. 15. Four days later the Rams held rival Colorado-Boulder to 29 percent shooting but still lost 56-51.
On Sunday, the Rams’ star trio of guards, Hunter, senior Molly Nohr and freshman Kelly Jo Mullaney, were limited to just 25 points total – almost 20 points off their season average in a 65-53 home loss against Denver.
“After losing to DU we all kind of went into the locker room with our heads down,” said Hunter. “But we know we have control of this season and there are controllable things we can do better. We’ve just got to have a win.”
The Bears also own a 2-5 mark, but CSU has several reasons to feel confident it can get a win at Butler Hancock Pavilion.
For starters, the Rams defeated the Bears 81-66 last season in Fort Collins for their 14th consecutive win over UNC.
Also noteworthy is that, earlier this season, UNC fell to Missouri-Kansas City by 25 points on the road. CSU topped the same team by 17 at home on Nov. 13.
Head Coach Jen Warden also feels confident that the Rams can get a much-needed win by dominating the game in the frontcourt.
“They shoot a lot of threes and they’ve got a very quick shooting guard we haven’t seen,” she said of the Bears. “I hope we’ll be able to shut down their inside with our own inside play.”
Inside play for the Rams has been limited scoring-wise so far this season, with its leading scorers being forward Juanise Cornell (5.7 ppg) and center Marilyn Moulton (4.7 ppg). But Moulton knows there are more ways than just scoring to help the team.
“It’s really important we contribute in a lot of different ways,” Moulton said. “You can’t just have one player who scores. Everyone has to contribute.”
Moulton’s 9.7 rebounds per game is second-best average in the Mountain West and leads a Rams squad that is first in the MWC in rebounding margin (+7.6).
The Rams also have freshman forward Raysha Ritter back after missing five weeks recovering from knee surgery, an addition Warden called “huge.”
UNC will counter with the second-lowest scoring offense in the Big Sky conference. The Bears are averaging 53.6 points per game, compared with CSU’s 64.4.
Senior forward Heather Barbour leads the Bears with 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Whitley Cox averages 11.8 points for UNC.
No matter who the Rams were playing tonight, they say what matters is finding a way to stop the current bleeding.
“It’s huge to get a win,” Warden said. “What is important is that we get on the bus after the game and can look at each other knowing that we played together and played well.”
“They’re not going to do anything out of the ordinary for us. This isn’t about UNC, this is about CSU,” she said.
Women’s basketball writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at email@example.com.