DENVER — The Border War was taken to neutral ground, a site
about 100 miles south of the Wyoming-Colorado border, where
late-game turnovers sent the Rams women’s basketball team chances
at a conference championship run southbound as well.
Unable to complete a second-half comeback, the Rams fell to
Wyoming 67-61 in the first round of the Mountain West Conference
Tournament at the Pepsi Center.
“Obviously a very disappointing effort,” said CSU head coach
Chris Denker. “Our coaching staff did not have us ready. We turned
the ball over; we did not shoot well. I take complete blame.”
Wyoming guard Ashley Elliot was unstoppable and proved why she
is a first-team all-Conference selection. The Rams defense could
not find a way to prevent the junior from hitting wide-open
3-pointers. Elliot finished the game with six 3-pointers and 29
“They just try to get one kid a lot of shots and she makes
them,” Denker said of Elliot. “It is not rocket science.”
Wyoming threw a tough, double-coverage defense at the Rams in
the paint, making it hard for them to get open shots. Nevertheless,
CSU rebounds and an equally tough Ram defense kept them in the
game. Senior guard Jasai Ferrucho led the Rams with six steals, and
together with sophomore Vanessa Espinoza pushed the ball in
transition to put points on the board.
“We had some good stretches where we defended well and were able
to get the ball in transition,” Denker said.
Each team enjoyed its share of scoring streaks in the first
half, but Wyoming came out on top at halftime 31-25. Three-pointers
were the Cowgirls’ primary scoring method, as the treys made up 21
of their 25 first-half points. Junior Forward Kristen Lenhardt
finished the game with 18 points, 12 of which came from behind the
CSU accumulated a seven-point lead at the beginning of the
second half after taking a 31-25 lead into the locker room at
halftime. Wyoming answered with a scoring run and tied the game at
43 with 10 minutes remaining.
Clutch free throws by CSU’s Kylee O’Dwyer, Lindsay Thomas and
Espinoza helped the Rams reclaim the lead at 51-43 with 7:34 left
to play. The Cowgirls refused to ride off quietly into the night
and countered with another run that put them ahead 57-52, with two
minutes to go.
“We had an eight-point lead, but we let Elliot shoot and turned
the ball over,” Ferrucho said. “That lost us the game right
Trailing late, the Rams were forced to foul Wyoming in an
attempt to stop the clock, but Elliot, Lendhardt and guard Brenda
Pickup hit 10-of-12 free throws to clinch the victory.
“Today there was no folding, no backing down,” said Pickup,
Wyoming’s defensive specialist who finished with four steals. “They
are going to go on their runs, but we fought back today.”
Five Rams hit double figures in scoring, including Ferrucho with
13, Espinoza with 12, Thomas and Melissa Dennett with 11 and Joy
Jenkins with 10. Dennett also added three blocks. The Rams were
The Rams now await the WNIT schedule to be released on Sunday to
find out how their season will end. Top-seeded New Mexico, which
beat Air Force 63-50 in the tournament’s first game, now faces
Wyoming at noon on Friday. Wyoming advances to the MWC second round
for the first time in school history.
The Good: Annika Walseth had a monumental, momentum-changing
block in the second half that sent the ball flying into the
The Bad: The Rams got into foul trouble early in the second half
and sent the Cowgirls into the bonus with 10:26 left in the
The Ugly: The Rams had a four-minute scoreless stretch late in
the second half that gave Wyoming a lead it did not relinquish.