For the CSU women’s basketball team, the next two weeks are more important than any other stretch of games thus far this season.
Over the course of the next three games seeding in the Mountain West Tournament will be solidified and the Rams will know if they can avoid the deadly pigtail game reserved for the two worst teams in the conference.
The Rams, who are currently sitting in second to last place in the Mountain West, can avoid the play-in game if they can work their way up just one spot in the standings. With a little help from the middle seeds as well as at least two wins in the next three games, CSU could finish as high as sixth in the league.
In order to take a big step in that direction, the Rams will need to pull out a win this Thursday when they play host to the sixth-ranked San Diego State Aztecs. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Moby Arena.
Head Coach Jen Warden said that the team needs to approach the next two weeks with the feeling that every win is going to be an upset, and they need to have that underdog mentality.
“This is a huge game for our program,” Warden said. “We have to understand that all three of these games are upsets, we are not the sixth place team playing the eighth place team. We are the eighth playing the sixth.”
The last time these two teams hooked up was in San Diego earlier this year, a 75- 66 loss for the Rams. The Aztecs also hold the all-time advantage, 18 games to 14. However, CSU holds the advantage at Moby Arena 8-6.
In order to pull off the upset the Rams will need junior guard Sara Hunter to continue the hot streak she has been on for the last few weeks. Hunter has averaged 18.1 points per game in the month of February and has led the Rams in scoring in four of the last six games.
Senior center Marilyn Moulton echoed coach Warden’s underdog mentality, saying that the team needs to go out and fight for everything they want.
“They are ranked higher than us so we want to go in there with the mentality that we are the underdog,” Moulton said. “We have nothing to lose.”
The Aztecs come into the game led by freshman guard Quenese Davis, who averages 9.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She also leads the league in assists per game, with 5.5.
Defensively SDSU is led by senior center Desiree Johnson, who is averaging 1.63 blocks per game to lead the Mountain West. She also averages 6.3 rebounds per game.
As a team the Aztecs are averaging 57.6 points per game to Colorado State’s 60.1. Defensively SDSU gives up 63.8 points per game, while the Rams are averaging 68.0.
After SDSU, the team will travel to Wyoming for a day game on Feb. 25, and then host Nevada-Las Vegas on March 3. Coach Warden said that the next three games being close to home will help the team both mentally and physically.
“After we got back from New Mexico (last week) it was just nice to know that we would not be spending any more nights in hotels,” Warden said. “I look forward to being home for these last few games and playing in front of our home crowd.”
Women’s basketball writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.