During a long Winter Break, the CSU women’s basketball team took
on a bevy of opponents and started the most important part of its
schedule: the Mountain West Conference portion.
After completing a tough non-conference schedule, the Rams
(10-5, 1-1) met up with two fierce competitors in conference play
this past week. The Rams played Thursday night against the Cougars
of Brigham Young (10-5, 0-1), and then faced off with conference
favorite Utah (12-4, 2-0) in a nationally-televised Saturday
afternoon game in Moby Arena.
The game came down to 29 seconds left on the game clock, the
Rams down by three and 2,210 fans in Moby on their feet.
At the end of the first half the Rams were leading the Utes
24-19. But Utah’s head coach Elaine Elliott wasn’t worried much
about the deficit.
“The good news is we were only down by five at the half, so
there was really no need to panic. You just have to get to the next
play,” Elliott said.
The Utes had an 11-minute scoring drought in the first half of
play, but came out firing behind sophomores Shona Thorburn and Kim
Smith. Thorburn had 25 points, 19 of which came in the second half,
while Smith had 18.
“We just came out more aggressive in the second half,” Thorburn
said of the 55-51 Utah win. “When it came down to it, they needed a
stop and they couldn’t get it.”
“We let a golden opportunity get away,” Denker said. “Actually
we gave it away. You’ve got to hold home-court (advantage), I don’t
care who you’re playing.”
Playing at home usually spells success for the Rams, but this
time the Utes were victorious and CSU saw its 17-game home
conference winning streak come to an end. Colorado State was led by
guard Vanessa Espinoza with 15 points, 13 of which came in the
second half, and senior forward Joy Jenkins with 13 points.
Thursday in Moby, the Cougars brought Ambrosia Anderson back
home. Anderson, a former Colorado basketball standout from Doherty
High School in Colorado Springs, showed her skills in the Cougar
uniform as she led BYU with 12 points. But the Rams brought a
strong showing at the free throw line and just enough to oust the
“This was another great battle at the start of conference play,”
said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins.
The Rams made an impressive 23 free throws in 29 attempts. And
despite being down by 13, the Rams rallied back to win. Espinoza,
who has been key for the Rams so far this season, was key in the
win as she chipped in 12 points to lead the Rams. Other key
personnel were center Melissa Dennett, who had 11 points and tied
her career-high with 11 rebounds, and senior guard Jasai Ferrucho,
who chipped in 10 points.
“It’s better to win ugly than to lose any time,” said Denker of
the win. “To shoot 30 percent and be out-rebounded by nine and
still win is amazing. This was a serious gut-check for the team and
they played with huge hearts.”
Saturday’s loss, however, changed the team’s attitude,
“We can always find a way to lose,” Espinoza said, “but we need
to find a way to win.” The Rams will search for a “way to win” when
they continue conference play in Las Vegas, where they face
Nevada-Las Vegas on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.