Rebounding was a major factor in the CSU women’s basketball
team’s 55-51 loss to Utah on Saturday at Moby Arena, as the Rams
were out-rebounded 38-32 and 15-4 on offensive boards. This is a
problem the Rams will look to remedy when they head to Las Vegas
for their third Mountain West Conference contest of the year and
first against Nevada-Las Vegas.
“We have been working hard at practice and trying to get
better,” said sophomore point guard Vanessa Espinoza, who leads the
Rams in scoring with 12 points per game. “We have done a lot of
boxing out and rebounding drills, especially offensive rebounding.
We have got to rebound. That is what is going to win us games.”
CSU enters the game with a 10-5 overall record and 1-1 in the
MWC, whereas UNLV brings a 12-2 overall record and 1-0 in the MWC.
The Rams beat BYU 54-52 for their lone conference victory and the
Rebels beat San Diego State 76-58 on Saturday in their only
conference action. Senior Rebel guard Infini Robinson earned MWC
Player of the Week honors for her 24-point performance against the
Aztecs and made 6-of-7 3-pointers.
UNLV averages 42.6 rebounds and has maintained a league-best
plus-8.9 rebounding margin, thanks to junior center Sherry
McCracklin’s 12.2 rebounds per game. That mark is the best in the
MWC and second in the nation. McCracklin also averages 14.7 points
CSU’s sophomore rebounding duo of Melissa Dennett and Lindsay
Thomas will be McCracklin’s primary opposition as the two combine
for over 14 rebounds per game. Dennett is the only player in the
MWC to average more than 10 rebounds in MWC games.
“We just need to rebound. They are the best rebounding team in
the league and if we can out-rebound them, we have a good chance of
winning,” Dennett said. “My strategy is just to get as many
rebounds as I can.”
UNLV’s other weapon is the conference’s leading scorer, junior
forward RanDee Henry. Henry scores 18.6 points and pulls down 7.2
rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Sheena Moore balances out the
Rebels offense by contributing 14.9 points and 3.1 assists per
CSU will look to attack UNLV with a very balanced offense that
contains four players – Espinoza, Dennett, Thomas and Joy Jenkins –
that average 12 or more points per game.
The Rams will be hitting the road for the first time since Dec.
14 and are 3-0 in road games. CSU leads the Ram-Rebel all-time
series, winning 12 and only dropping 5, but UNLV has won the last
three decisions at home. After facing the Rebels, CSU will head to
California to take on San Diego State on Saturday.
“We are ready to play UNLV and San Diego State,” Espinoza said.
“We know these are must-win games.”