The CSU women’s basketball team returns home this week to play five of its last seven games in Moby Arena.
About time if you ask them.
Games away from Moby have not been kind to the Rams this season and the trend continued this past weekend.
A shorthanded CSU squad fell to UNLV, 90-71, Saturday night, playing the game with only one true point guard on the roster. Coupled with the Rams’ 60-47 defeat at San Diego State two nights prior, CSU (11-10, 2-5 MWC) has now dropped six straight road games and is a meager 2-9 away from home this season.
In Las Vegas, the Rams ran into a hot-shooting Rebel squad. UNLV shot 51 percent from the field for the game, including a scorching 71 percent in the second half.
“It seems shooting has been our nemesis all year, one way or another,” said CSU head coach Chris Denker. “We shot fine, 41 points in the second half isn’t bad at all, especially since we scored only 47 the whole game at San Diego State. They just couldn’t miss.”
The Rams played without two of their guards against UNLV. Junior guard Jasai Ferrucho was suspended for the game after being ejected for fighting with San Diego State’s Veronica Shaw. Sophomore Ashley Venekamp sat out the game after recurring symptoms from a head injury earlier this season forced her to visit a hospital Friday.
With their backcourt depleted, senior forward Ashley Augspurger played much of the game as the Rams’ backup point guard and led the team with four assists.
“All things considered, I’m pretty proud of our team,” Denker said. “We’re disappointed with the loss, but being shorthanded as we were, I thought our players toughed it out.”
Senior center Shannon Strecker led the Rams with 15 points and seven rebounds, and was one of five Rams in double figures.
UNLV was led by guard Constance Jinks, who scored a game-high 26 points, many of which weren’t easy.
“There were times when I was in her face and she would turn around, fade away and still make it,” said guard Vanessa Espinoza of the all-conference star. “That’s what makes her a special player and that was just the way things went for them tonight.”
Besides benefiting from several key CSU turnovers, the Rebels out-rebounded the Rams, 41-29.
Poor shooting more than anything damned the Rams against San Diego State on Thursday night.
CSU shot an anemic 28.6 percent (18 of 63) from the field en route to their second-lowest scoring output of the season.
“You’ve got to hope and believe that when you hold a team to 60 points, you’ve got a pretty good chance to win,” Denker said. “It seemed as though we wanted to do well, but when you shoot 28 percent, you just can’t beat anybody.”
The Aztecs seemed to focus their defensive efforts on Strecker, who finished with a team-high 13 points, daring the Rams to beat them from the outside – a gamble that paid off with the Rams’ cold shooting hands.
CSU’s three primary outside weapons – Ashley Augspurger (3 of 15), Jackie Campbell (1 of 7) and Borton (2 of 12) – were a combined 6 of 34 (17.6 percent) from the field.
“We got good looks, but we just couldn’t make them pay for double-teaming Shannon,” Denker said.
The Rams will play next on Thursday night against the league-leading Utah Utes, who stand at 7-0 in conference play.