Jan 272005
Authors: Bob Fernandez

Wyoming at CSU

CSU – Record – 11-6 (2-2 MWC)

Points per game – 68.2

Points allowed per game – 60.1

Top scorer – Melissa Dennett –15 ppg

Wyoming – Record – 12-5 (3-1 MWC)

Points per game – 60.7

Points allowed per game – 53.4

Top scorer – Ashley Elliott – 16.2 ppg

When it comes to local rivalries among college sports teams, the first thing that comes to mind for many area sports fans is the much-hyped instate rivalry between CSU and Colorado.

However, when it comes to women's basketball, the Rams' biggest rival is not the Buffs. It's the Wyoming Cowgirls, said junior guard Vanessa Espinoza. The Rams will go head-to-head with the Cowgirls tonight at Moby Arena, in what has become known as the Border War.

"(This rivalry) is definitely bigger than (the) CU (rivalry)," Espinoza said. "Last year they beat us twice, and we haven't got over that yet. They're coming into our house (tonight), and we just got to dominate."

Last season, the Rams matched up with the Cowgirls three times; winning once at home, losing once in Wyoming and losing once in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

CSU head coach Chris Denker said the rivalry between CSU and Wyoming remains intense because the two teams are in the same conference and play each other multiple times per year.

"I think what makes this (rivalry) a little different (than the CU rivalry) is that it is in conference play and you're going to play them at least twice," Denker said. "I think the more you face somebody, the more heightened that rivalry becomes; partly because you end up knowing each other so well."

Wyoming has gotten off to what some may consider a surprising start to this season's conference schedule. Despite being picked to finish sixth in the conference by the MWC coaches, the Cowgirls have got off to a 3-1 start in conference play, which as of Thursday puts them in a tie with Utah for second in the MWC standings and behind conference leader New Mexico. The Rams, Thursday, are tied with Brigham Young for fourth in the conference.

The Cowgirls are led by three players who average double-digit points per game. Senior guard Ashley Elliott leads the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game to go along with a team-best 4.1 assists per game and a MWC-best 2.94 steals per game. Freshman forward Hanna Zavecz is second on the team in both scoring, with 15.5 points per game, and rebounding, with 6.6 rebounds per game. Junior guard Erin Hicks is third on the team in scoring with 10.8 points per game, first on the team in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game and second in the MWC with 2.76 steals per game.

Elliott was named to the MWC Preseason All-Conference Team and is widely considered one of the top players in the conference, Denker said.

"A few different media outlets had named (Elliott) the preseason (MWC) player of the year, and she's been playing like it," Denker said. "She has the ability to carry her team."

The Rams will hit the hardwood today against Elliott and her Cowgirls teammates at 7 p.m. at Moby. The Rams are 9-2 at Moby and have won three home games in a row and seven home conference games in a row.



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