With just two games left in the women’s basketball season, it is possible for the Rams (9-18, 4-10 MWC) to enter the Mountain West Conference Tournament on March 10 sitting seventh in conference play.
The Rams are currently tied for the eighth seed with UNLV, a team CSU has swept this season, and will travel to Albuquerque, N. M., Saturday to take on the New Mexico Lobos (18-8, 7-6 MWC) for their last away game of the season. UNLV will be taking on Air Force, who is 0-13 in conference play, the same afternoon, making Saturday’s game a must win for the Rams.
“We just have to go and not worry about anyone else. We cannot worry about if UNLV is going to beat Air Force. We have just got to control our own destiny,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “Bottom line is whoever we play it is what it is. We just have to take it a day at the time and not worry about who is losing.”
“It is a tough place to play. New Mexico is a tough team, but we can be a tough team at times so I know it is a game we can play with them,” senior forward Britney Minor said. “To beat New Mexico we have to come out focused an hour before the game, not once the game starts. When we come out flat, that’s when we always get behind and those are the games we lose.”
The higher CSU stands in the conference heading into the MWC Tournament, the better shot they will have at facing an even caliber team in the first round.
After a loss to the Wyoming Cowgirls 71-62 Wednesday night in Laramie, the Rams’ bid for the sixth position in MWC ended.
“When I watched the tape I saw so many things that we could have corrected and just some fundamental things,” coach Holt said. “You can have effort but if you are not being smart and you are not where you are suppose to be, then that is going to hurt you.”
Wednesday night the Rams’ defense allowed seven three-pointers in the first half and allowed four of the Cowgirls’ players to score in double figures. Emma Langford led Wyoming in scoring with 17 points, while her teammate Hilary Carlson tallied 16 points, along with nine rebounds and five of the Cowgirl’s 10 blocks.
The Rams also had trouble with fouls, committing 18 team fouls in the second half.
“We just have to be disciplined enough to keep (offensive players) in front of us and not foul,” junior forward Juanise Cornell said. “We don’t want to play (New Mexico) like we did Wyoming. We need to get in and pressure them and not commit fouls.”
For the Rams it was sophomore guard Bonnie Barbee who came off the bench to lead CSU in scoring with 11 points, nine of which came off three consecutive three-pointers in the last two minutes of play.
“I would like to see that from Bonnie when she goes in on the first half. Bonnie is really good at scoring at the end of the game but she has got to focus in on doing that all the time,” Holt said.
Senior forward Carine Reimink was second in scoring with 10 points, which was Rimink’s highest total since ending the Northern Iowa game on Dec. 14, with 10 points. Reimink was also perfect from the foul line, sinking all four of her free throws.
Five-foot-10-inch freshman guard Kim Mestdagh was the leading rebounder for the Rams, with a career-high nine boards along with six points.
New Mexico enters Saturday’s game on a two-game losing streak, after falling to San Diego Sate and TCU on the road. The Lobos have only won two of their last seven games, giving the Rams confidence that New Mexico is a team they can beat.
“(New Mexico is) obviously a beatable team,” Cornell said. “UNLV beat them and they are not an unbeatable team. They are good and we are just going to have to come out and play our game.”
In the last matchup between the two schools on Jan. 28, the Lobos defeated the Rams in Moby 76-68 after a late comeback attempt by CSU fell short.
Amy Beggin was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points for New Mexico, while freshman Meghan Heimstra, in her second start of the season, was second in scoring with a career-high 19 points.
Tipoff for Saturday’s game is set for 2 p.m.
Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at email@example.com.