The CSU women’s basketball team (7-14, 2-6 MWC) travels south to take on the TCU Horned Frogs (13-8, 2-6 MWC) in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday afternoon.
TCU defeated the Rams in Moby Arena on Jan. 7 and the Horned Frogs have won the last nine contests against CSU.
“It is hard to beat a team twice in the same year, and even harder to beat them three times; hence Utah,” sophomore Bonnie Barbee said. “I think we are going to have a great shot. (TCU has) a couple of good players that we will have to keep an eye on.”
Saturday afternoon will begin the second half of Mountain West Conference play for the Rams, which could give CSU an advantage with facing teams they have already seen and played this season.
“We are a different team and (TCU is) a different team. It will be interesting to see where we are,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “I think we have strengths like rebounding which is not one of (TCU’s) strengths so we are going to have to take advantage of that.”
The Rams come into Saturday’s game on a three-game losing streak in MWC play after falling to Wyoming, New Mexico and San Diego State. The toughest of the three losses came last Saturday afternoon against SDSU, where the Rams were defeated by one point with a last minute layup by Jen Layton-Bailes of SDSU.
However, despite a loss last Saturday, coach Holt described Saturday’s game as the Rams best performance of the season.
CSU managed to outscore their opponent 34-28 in the second half while also dominating the boards, out-rebounding SDSU 48-29. The Rams also forced 20 turnovers.
TCU comes into Saturday’s game off a loss at Utah Wednesday night.
“TCU is not as athletic as SDSU, so we can get out and deny the passing lanes and pressure them more than we did SDSU,” junior Juanise Cornell said. “TCU is not a very good rebounding team and we out-rebounded SDSU. I think we will come with that same mentality.”
In the last three games the Rams have improved their play, by outperforming their opponents in the second half but coming up short at the end.
“It gives us confidence that we can beat these teams and you can see it in practice,” Cornell said. “Today we came out hitting our shots and playing with confidence. I think the second part of the season is going to be good.”
With no game scheduled for Wednesday night, coach Holt gave her team three days off to relax after the loss to SDSU.
“It was good to get a break. It allowed us to rest our legs and it gave me time to get some schoolwork done,” Barbee said.
“Three days off for me was amazing. I feel like it is the beginning of the season for me,” Cornell said.
Coach Holt will stay with the same line-up she has used for three consecutive games because of their performance.
“I will play the people who are producing no matter what year in school they are,” coach Holt said.
Starting for the Rams will be freshman Meghan Heimstra, sophomore Zoi Simmons, Cornell, senior Britney Minor and senior captain Kandy Beemer.
Saturday will mark the fourth consecutive start for the freshman Heimstra. In the past three games Heimstra has scored a total of 27 points while pulling down 15 rebounds.
Tip-off for Saturday’s game is 4 p.m. MST.
The Rams will return to Moby Arena Wednesday to take on the BYU Cougars.
Holt agrees to
Head coach Kristen Holt agreed to a contract extension that will keep her at CSU through the 2012-13 basketball season.
“One thing we wanted to accomplish this year was creating the right mentality, which I think we are doing. We have to recruit good players and good talent,” coach Holt said. “I am excited about the strides that our team has made this season. Colorado State has a history of great women’s basketball and it is my goal to elevate this program atop the Mountain West Conference and return it to national prominence.”
In her first year as head coach for the Rams, coach Holt has improved her team performance from a 2-28, 0-16 MWC regular season last year to currently a record of 7-14, 2-6 MWC in the first half of the season.
CSU Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk said that coach Holt has earned the contract to remain at CSU.
“Kristen has clearly demonstrated she has what it takes to be a successful head coach and to lead our program back to the top, in the conference and nationally,” Kowalczyk said.
For the returning players, keeping their coach for another three years is huge.
“It is good to know the same coach is going to be here,” sophomore Bonnie Barbee said. “It gives us a chance to build and I would say we have had a pretty good year this year.”
“I am very excited,” junior Juanise Cornell said.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at email@example.com.