It is a good bet that the 2007 regular season will be remembered as one of the more difficult ones in CSU women’s basketball history.
The only thing that can make it better, the team says, is to finish strong.
The Rams (8-19, 3-11) have one final regular season opportunity to do just that when they play host to UNLV (12-14, 6-8) Saturday at 1 p.m.
After starting the season 5-5 with a strong showing from a new crop of talent that included freshmen Kelly Jo Mullaney, Raysha Ritter and Emily Neal, the Rams seemed to be capable of improving on last year’s 9-20 record.
But since then the Rams have gone 3-14 overall, battled injuries and suspensions, and lost two players (Mullaney and Ritter) who decided to leave the program after their suspensions had ended.
Saturday, which will be senior day for center Marilyn Moulton and guard Justine France, provides the team with an opportunity to finish off the year on a positive note.
“It would be a whole lot easier to go home with a win, especially with everything that’s gone on this year,” said France.
The Rams, who are in eighth place in the MWC, will play Air Force in Tuesday’s play-in game for the conference tournament in Las Vegas no matter what happens Saturday. But Head Coach Jen Warden said it is extremely important for the Rams to build momentum before making the trip.
“I want them to play with passion and do the things we did for the past eight weeks,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
One thing that has gone well recently for the Rams is the play of freshman center Nya Mason. Mason had not scored double digits before a Feb. 14 game at New Mexico, when she scored a career-high 14. Mason matched that mark Sunday against Wyoming.
Teammates say it has been nice to watch Mason learn the trade from Moulton in order to take over for her the next three years.
“From my perspective, it’s been really fun to see Nya watch and learn from Marilyn,” said France. “Marilyn has done a really good job about that.”
For the Lady Rebels, Saturday’s game may determine who gets the sixth seed in the MWC tournament. San Diego State, just one game back in the standings, plays New Mexico at home Saturday.
UNLV is led by guard Sequoia Holmes and center Shamela Hampton, who average 14.0 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. Forward Faye Miller leads all MWC players with 10.0 rebounds per contest.
Last time these teams met, those three UNLV players combined for 28 points and 27 rebounds in a 57-46 win over the Rams.
This time around the Rams should be even more desperate for a win, especially as it will be the last time Moulton and France don the CSU uniform
“It would mean a lot to get a win,” Moulton said. “I would be dying with happiness.”
Women’s basketball Jeff Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.