The game was as physical as it was exhilarating.
When the CSU women’s basketball team traveled to Wyoming on Saturday to take on the Cowgirls in the Border War, it was immediately obvious that there was no love lost between these two teams.
“The rivalry between us makes us play 10 times more aggressive basketball,” UW senior forward Carrie Bacon said after the game.
The 69-64 overtime win for Wyoming was Bacon’s first victory in seven games against the Rams.
Aggressive is definitely the adjective to describe the play on the court. It was almost impossible for anyone to get under the hoop without being knocked to the ground.
“They’re a very physical team,” CSU junior guard Jasai Ferrucho said. “Their guards are pretty strong.”
This inevitably led to foul trouble for both teams. For the Rams it was their senior center, Shannon Strecker, who took most of the calls.
“We had Shannon in foul trouble even in the first half,” CSU head coach Chris Denker said. “It really takes away a big scoring presence from us.”
Strecker was leading the Rams in scoring against conference rivals, averaging 12.5 points per game before Saturday’s six-point outing. Not only did having her sitting on the bench hurt the team’s scoring ability, it also hindered Strecker defensively.
“She told me she was scared of fouling and you can’t have a player playing like that,” Denker said. “But then everything she did was getting called for the foul; it was a no-win situation.”
Strecker committed two fouls in 30 seconds early in the second half that forced her to the bench for 10 minutes. Strecker would end up playing only 17 minutes in the 45 minutes of play, the second fewest minutes of the active players. This took its toll on the rest of the team with forward Ashley Augspurger playing an astounding 40 minutes.
“(Strecker) is our best player under the basket,” senior forward Katie Borton said. “It really hurt because it allowed their players to attack the perimeter.”
Borton led the team with 14 points, including four shots from behind the arc and played 36 minutes.
CSU and Wyoming are as close as any two teams in the country. They both started 0-2 in the conference, with both teams’ losses coming at the hands of Utah and BYU.
Both teams bounced back and won the following two home games against New Mexico and Air Force. And both teams were sitting side by side in the league standings before Saturday. The game mirrored this closeness being tied at the half and tied at regulation.
Unfortunately for the Rams, Strecker fouled out with just 1:24 left to play in regulation. It seemed to all be too much for the Rams as they fell apart in overtime.
“It was disappointing, but those are the games you live for – the ones that go into overtime,” Borton said.