Excitement is in the air today as CSU womenâ€™s basketball prepares to face New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference Championships in Las Vegas.
The teams split their regular season meetings with the home team prevailing in each match up. New Mexico enters this afternoonâ€™s game winners of three of their last four games, while the Rams have lost four consecutive games.
Despite the losing streak, CSU maintains the confidence the team has had all season.
â€œI donâ€™t think it really will affect us,â€ said head coach Kristen Holt. â€œHopefully weâ€™ve learned some things in these last few weeks, and thatâ€™s why weâ€™ve lost games, and hopefully we can put it together.â€
Historically, the Rams have done well in the conference tournament, posting an 8-8 record all-time, along with winning the tournament in 2001.
â€œI feel we always do very well and do some upsets in the tournament,â€ said junior guard Bonnie Barbee.
Last season, CSU defeated fifth-seeded Wyoming for their 10th win of the year before losing 62-48 to eventual semi-finalist New Mexico. This year the Rams are also seeded eighth and will match up with the fifth seed in the first round.
â€œItâ€™s a new year, but statistically speaking, itâ€™s the same,â€ Barbee said.
CSU has won its opening round game for the past two seasons and been knocked out of the tournament by the Lobos in both years.
â€œIt would be awesome for us to do that again,â€ Holt said, â€œBut every team is different, and you probably canâ€™t put too much on what youâ€™ve done in the past. Youâ€™ve gotta get ready and play and hopefully get a win.â€
New Mexico has four seniors who could be playing in their last game, headlined by 2009-10 first team all-conference guard Amy Beggin.
Beggin led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at nearly three assists to every turnover. She also shot 91.9 percent from the free throw line â€“â€“ the best in the MWC.
As has been the case all season, effort and energy will determine the outcome of the game for the Rams.
â€œWe have to play for each other, that would be the biggest key,â€ Barbee said.
In the victory earlier this year, CSU excelled in Holtâ€™s â€œeffort stats,â€ dishing out 9 assists and pulling down 6 offensive rebounds.
â€œWeâ€™re all ready to win,â€ said sophomore Meghan Heimstra. â€œWe just need to play as hard as we can.â€
Mestdagh named all-conference
On Monday, the MWC announced that CSU forward and guard Kim Mestdagh earned second team honors.
Mestdagh, a sophomore from Leper, Belgium, scored 16.4 points per game and shot 81 percent from the free throw line. She was the MWC Player of the Week three times this season.
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
Next Game: CSU vs. New Mexico
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Las Vegas