Nov 142004
Authors: Bob Fernandez

After easily beating Western State Friday, the CSU women's basketball team had another wide-margin victory, blowing out Colorado-Colorado Springs on Saturday


Head coach Chris Denker described the second and final exhibition game before the beginning of the regular season as "sloppy," but he believes the Rams are ready for the preseason to be over.

"I think we're ready for (regular season) games (that count)," Denker said. "(The team) seemed to look a little disinterested at times."

The Rams struggled offensively, particularly in the first half when they shot 34.4 percent from the field and committed nine turnovers.

"It felt like there was a lid on the hoop," said junior guard Vanessa Espinoza of the first half.

CSU played better in the second half, shooting 54.5 percent and committing only five turnovers.

"They were really scrappy, especially in the post, they rebounded really well, and they basically attacked you when you got the ball (inside)," said junior center Lindsay Thomas.

Although Denker said he wasn't happy with the Rams' offensive struggles in the first half, he was pleased with the team's effort on defense. CSU's pressure defense caused UCCS to commit 25 turnovers and held the team to 20.3 percent shooting from the field, including 12.5 percent in the first half.

"If you're going to have a sloppy game and struggle offensively, then you definitely got to buckle down and guard people, and we did," Denker said.

Denker said the team seemed to struggle against the full-court press the Mountain Lions employed. The Mountain Lions consistently double-teamed and trapped the Rams' ball handler as she dribbled the ball up the court.

"It was good for us to have to work against the (full-court) press for most the game, especially for our young guards, who definitely had some trouble with it at times," Denker said.

One of the young guards who had to work against UCCS's full-court press was freshman guard Sara Hunter, who finished the game with seven points, two assists, two turnovers and four steals. Her fellow backcourt starter, Espinoza, had a solid all-around game with 10 points, four assists, five rebounds and two steals. Junior starting forward Melissa Dennett led the Rams in scoring with 16 and was also second on the team in rebounding with seven. Thomas provided the Rams with a spark off the bench with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 21 minutes.

"That's what we're hoping to get from (Thomas) all the time," Denker said. "(She) came in right away aggressive and ran the court aggressively."

Senior guard Janine Ota and freshman guard Stephanie Sauter led the Mountain Lions with seven points each.

With the final of two exhibition games behind them, the Rams will begin their regular season Friday at Moby Arena against San Francisco.

Espinoza said she is looking forward to the regular season opener so the team can see the results of its off-season practices and workouts.

"These exhibition games are fun, but you just want to get to the real thing," Espinoza said. "We worked so hard in practice, and just getting to that real game is what we worked for all year."

After the Rams' sluggish victory over the Mountain Lions, Denker said the team needs to get back to playing at a high level in preparation for the regular season opener.

"Now we got to realize that we didn't maybe play our best (against UCCS), and we got real games coming up that count to (our) record," Denker said. "We have some business to take care of, and so we need to have a couple of good days of practice (during) the early part of the week and be sharp and fresh and ready to go."

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