The fight for bragging rights that has been raging across the 65-mile stretch of Highway 287 for more than 30 years comes home Thursday night as the Rams women’s basketball team takes on the Wyoming Cowgirls in this year’s first women’s Border War.
It will be the 70th installment of the biannual game, with Colorado State holding a 40-29 edge.
The Rams (6-12, 1-5) will be looking to snap their current five game losing streak in Mountain West match-ups.
The team will again be playing shorthanded, as the suspensions for a chemical bomb prank involving Kelly Jo Mullaney, Emily Neal, Raysha Ritter and Britney Stirling are slated to continue.
In spite of their recent struggles, CSU comes into the game riding a career performance from freshman guard Ashley McFarland against San Diego State last Saturday. McFarland, normally a reserve who has been starting in place of the suspended Mullaney, scored 24 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from three in the contest.
According to McFarland, her performance last week doesn’t change the way that she sees her role on the team.
“My role is the same,” McFarland said. “I’ll just come out and play hard, play defense first.”
The Rams come into the game led statistically by their upperclassmen on the outside, senior guard Molly Nohr and junior guard Sara Hunter. Nohr is averaging more than 11 points per game this season and Hunter is not far behind with an average of 10.
In addition, Hunter leads the team in three pointers with 29, accounting for almost 35 percent of the team’s long-range points this season.
Hunter said that for the team to get back on the right track they will need to play tough in the second half, something that they have not been able to do in the last few weeks.
“We have to stay focused for 40 minutes,” Hunter said. “We need to not make any more excuses and just play hard.”
Wyoming comes to Moby on a two game winning streak in which they beat San Diego State and TCU, two teams that were ranked higher in the conference than the Cowgirls at the time. Wyoming is currently tied for third place in the Mountain West.
The Cowgirls are led by freshman guard Aubrey Vandiver, a 5-foot-11-inch native of Laramie. Vandiver was named the MWC Player of the Week last week, averaging nearly 17 points over that span, including a 23-point, 10-rebound performance against SDSU.
Rams Head Coach Jen Warden said that the game presents a challenge for her team, but that she knows they have the tools to put together a win.
“We had really nice chemistry on the floor against San Diego State,” Warden said. “We just can’t give away games off boards and we can’t give away games off turnovers.”
Turnovers have been a problem for the team this season, as they are currently averaging more than 17 per game. Even so, coach Warden said that she knows anything can happen in a rivalry game.
“It’s a Border War,” Warden said with an excited smile. “I just hope to see a lot of CSU fans out there to support us.”
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. in Moby Arena.
Women’s basketball beat writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.