Over the past month, players on the CSU women's basketball team took a break from their schoolwork but didn't take a break from basketball. They played in seven games, including four road games, from Dec. 21 through Saturday.
However, in their most recent outing, a 74-54 blowout loss at Brigham Young on Saturday, the Rams played like a team that had taken a break from playing basketball at its normal competitive level, said head coach Chris Denker.
"The most disappointing thing is the lack of competitive drive," Denker told The Fort Collins Coloradoan. "At no point did we really compete as a quintet. We never had five kids playing hard and together."
With the loss, the Rams fell to 0-2 in their conference schedule and 9-6 overall.
BYU (10-5, 1-1 MWC) got off to a quick start, taking a 30-10 lead early in the first half in front of 962 fans at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.
The Rams went into their locker room at halftime trailing BYU 41-25. The Cougars shot 54.8 percent in the first half, and their 41 points were the most points scored in a first half by a CSU opponent so far this season.
"We were horrible defensively," Denker said in the Coloradoan. "We let them get on a roll, and then they were shooting with confidence."
The Rams were led by junior center Lindsay Thomas, who scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to record her eighth double-double of the season. Junior forward Melissa Dennett was second on the team in scoring and was the only other Ram to score in double figures, with 13 points to go along with nine boards.
The Cougars were led by senior forward Kristen Kozlowski, who had 12 points and nine rebounds, and senior guard Julie Sullivan, who had 12 points and five assists
The Rams were shorthanded Saturday because of injuries. Starting junior point guard Vanessa Espinoza sustained a slight concussion during Wednesday's practice and was limited to only 21 minutes of playing time, seven minutes less than she normally plays, after leaving the game early in the second half.
Espinoza finished the game with two points on 1-of-10 shooting, two assists, two steals and four turnovers.
Freshman reserve guard Sara Hunter also played only 21 minutes, four minutes less than her norm, because of a hamstring injury, an injury that has plagued her for more than a week, according to Denker.
In her 21 minutes, Hunter recorded five points on 1-of-6 shooting, two boards and five turnovers.
Sophomore reserve center Marilyn Moulton has missed the past two games because of a sprained ankle.
The Rams will take another stab at their first conference win of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday when they host San Diego State at Moby Arena in their first home conference game of the season.
In addition to Saturday's game at BYU, the Rams played six other games over the break:
Jan. 13-At Utah (conference opener)
Leader Scorers: CSU- Lindsay Thomas 12 pts Utah-Shona Thorburn 18 pts
Leading Rebounders: CSU-Lindsay Thomas 12 rebs Utah-Kim Smith 11 rebs
Highlights: CSU loses its first conference game of the season.
Jan. 8-At Montana – CSU 65, Montana 53
Leading Scorers: CSU-Melissa Dennett 21 pts MU-Hollie Tyler 12 pts
Leading Rebounders: CSU-Lindsay Thomas 11 rebs MU-Juliann Keller 8 rebs
Highlights: The Rams extend a three-game winning streak.
Jan. 4-Denver – CSU 67, DU 47
Leading Scorers: CSU-Melissa Dennett 15 pts DU-Tasha Jones and Sara Benham 10 pts each
Leading Rebounders: CSU-Lindsay Thomas 11 rebs DU-Sara Benham 6 rebs
Highlights: The Pioneers' 15 points in the first half was the lowest total allowed by the Rams this season and the fewest points scored by an opponent since Air Force scored 13 in the first half two season ago.
Jan. 2-At Northern Colorado – CSU 69, UNC 59
Leading Scorers: CSU-Vanessa Espinoza 24 pts UNC-Kendra Lambrecht 13 pts
Leading Rebounders: CSU-Melissa Dennett 8 rebs UNC-Danielle Hagen, Kirsten Van Orden, Cindy McCarroll each with 6 rebs
Highlights: CSU gets its first road win of the season.
Dec. 23-At Connecticut – UCONN 63, CSU 44
Leading Scorers: CSU-Melissa Dennett and Vanessa Espinoza each with 11 pts UCONN-Ann Strother
Leading Rebounders: CSU-Lindsay Thomas 7 rebs UCONN-Jessica Moore 8 rebs
Highlights: CSU took an early 9-7 lead on the road against the defending NCAA national champions.
Dec. 21-Tennessee-Martin CSU 95, Tennessee-Martin 49
Leading Scorers: Lindsay Thomas 26 pts UTM-Chandra Carey 13 pts
Leading Rebounders: Lindsay Thomas 10 rebs UTM-Andreika Jackson 9 rebs
Highlights: Junior forward Lindsay Thomas shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the field. The Rams shot 60 percent from the field, including 73 percent in the second half.