The CSU women’s basketball team (1-5) heads south to the University of Denver to face the Pioneers (1-2) tonight at 7 p.m. in its first televised game of the season, which can be seen on FSN-Rocky Mountain.
CSU leads the all-time series with Denver 13-4, including a 5-2 record at Magness Arena, but under coach Jen Warden the Rams are 0-2 versus the pioneers with an average point margin of 15.5. But despite the previous two seasons’ losses, there is hope for the young Rams tonight as they tallied their first win of the young season last week against Navy in the Rocky Mountain Invitational.
Sophomore forward Juanise Cornell led the Rams in scoring against the Navy Midshipmen with 14 points and five rebounds, and sophomore guard Emily Neal made the most of her playing time, adding 11 points off the bench. Both Cornell and Neal were perfect from the free throw line at 6-6 combined.
“I started becoming more aggressive going to the basket,” said Cornell as she did the majority of her scoring in the second half. “The opposing team just has to pick their poison with us.”
Coach Warden feels that, despite the 1-5 start to the season, the win at the Rocky Mountain Invitational was the step CSU needed to get the season on track.
“I feel like we grew during this tournament-mentally on Friday and physically [on Saturday],” said Warden in her post-game comments this past weekend.
Tonight’s game against Denver is the Rams’ second regular season contest with a Front Range foe, and there are two keys to tonight’s game that stick out above the rest.
One, it’s going to take a more consistent offensive and defensive performance by CSU to counteract a very potent DU offense, as the Rams are shooting a mere 36.14 percent from the field in their five losses (compared to 45 percent in their lone win) while allowing opponents to score on 41.9 percent of their shots (held Navy to 35.3).
Two, the Rams need to produce more scoring by veteran players and not rely so much on the talented, but inexperienced, freshmen. Granted, the team as a whole is very young and sophomores are considered team veterans.
Other than the overall play by senior Sara Hunter and junior newcomer Kandy Beemer’s ability to shoot the three-pointer, the Rams have lacked solid offensive production by highly touted junior college transfers. Freshman account for 30 percent of the team’s points, which is without question great news for the future of the program and perhaps will prove worthy this season, but veterans, more times than not, are called to take the reigns in clutch situations.
Fan can hear tonight’s game live by the voice of the women’s basketball team, Cole Weinman and Lance Moorman, in Fort Collins on 90.5 KCSU.
Sports writer Matt Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.