If there is any truth to the saying that history repeats itself, the CSU women’s basketball team could start off the season in style.
For the second time in the team’s history, the Rams will start their season with the preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
The only other time CSU was in this tournament was during the 1998-99 season. That year the Rams won the championship with a 71-60 victory over Rutgers.
Although history is on the Rams’ side, competition is fierce. Of the 16 teams that are participating in the tournament, 12 made it to the postseason last March: Kansas State, Colorado State, Penn State, Mississippi State, Syracuse, Bucknell, Ball State, Georgia Tech, San Francisco, Southern Cal, Siena and Southwest Missouri State.
If the Rams are to walk away with the championship, it appears they’ll have to get past Kansas State in the semifinals. Kansas State is ranked No. 5 in the country. And if CSU makes it to the finals, they could face No. 14 Penn State.
This might sound like a daunting task, but it must be considered that the Rams are No. 18 and are certainly capable of causing a couple of upsets.
The Rams will host the first round and also the second if they are able to overcome the Lady Dons of the University of San Francisco. The tournament tips off at 7 p.m. Friday at Moby Arena.
The Lady Dons beat CSU the last time that the two teams met. It was also the only previous time the teams have met. CSU lost 53-45 on Jan. 4, 1990.
The Rams enter the tournament having won their two exhibition games by an average of 30 points. The games were against Spartak Moscow and Team Concept.
CSU will be led by 6-foot-1 senior forward Ashley Augspurger, who was recently named to the Mountain West Conference 2002-03 preseason team. Augspurger and fellow senior Elizabeth English have both made over 100 three-point shots while two others, Jackie Campbell and Katie Borton are nearing in on the mark.
The Lady Dons will look to last year’s West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year, guard Toni Russell, to create turnovers and make clutch shots. Russell led the WCC in steals last season and led her team in assists.
The Rams start the tournament defending an eight-game home winning streak and will rely on the home court advantage to help them continue their success.