With four games remaining on the schedule, CSU women’s basketball has four chances left to put a good finish on a challenging season.
The good news for the Rams is that three of their next four games are at home.
The bad news is that CSU (7-17, 2-10) has yet to beat any Mountain West Conference team other than last-place Air Force.
CSU’s final stretch begins Saturday against MWC frontrunner Brigham Young (17-6, 8-2) at 2 p.m. in Moby Arena.
After that, home games against San Diego State and Nevada-Las Vegas sandwich a road test against Wyoming – all games that will determine whether the Rams can climb out of eighth place in the MWC.
Asked if she thinks her team can do that, Head Coach Jen Warden said, “Absolutely.”
“There are enough wins on our schedule that we can do it,” she said. “We’re competitors and we’re not going to give up.”
Warden said the team has remained confident despite losing 10 of its last 11 games.
As of now, the Rams would face Air Force, whom CSU swept in the regular season, in the eighth and ninth-seed play-in game of the MWC tournament, and the winner would have to face the conference’s top seed in the following round, which at this point would be BYU.
The Cougars, 8-2 in conference play, are on top of the MWC standings, but have lost two of their last four league games.
BYU is led by senior forward Dani Wright and junior center Lauren Riley. Wright is averaging 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while Riley averages 7.3 and 6.7.
The Cougars capitalized on 15 points from Wright and 12 from Riley in a 69-56 win in Provo, Utah, on Jan. 18 and out-rebounded the Rams 44-34 in that contest.
CSU will need a strong performance from senior center Marilyn Moulton. Moulton has played some of her best basketball recently, but has also run into foul trouble, including fouling out with 13 minutes left in Wednesday’s 77-66 loss at New Mexico.
“I think if you go ask the team right now who our biggest opponent is they’d say ‘foul trouble,'” Warden said. “Other teams have 14 players and we have seven, so there’s going to be a disadvantage.”
Freshman center Nya Mason scored a career-high 14 points off the bench replacing Moulton in Wednesday’s loss and will also be a key factor in containing BYU’s frontcourt.
The Rams are two games behind seventh-place UNLV and, according to Warden, need to win at least three of their final four to catch them.
“We have to realize that our most winnable games are in the next few weeks on our schedule,” Warden said. “We’re not going to do anything as individuals. Everything we do is going to be as a team.”
Women’s basketball beat writer Jeff Dillon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: BYU at CSU
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Moby Arena