Feb 172009
Authors: Justin Warren

The CSU women’s basketball team (8-16, 3-8 MWC) travels to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on Mountain West Conference leaders the Utah Utes (17-7, 10-1 MWC) tonight.

“We are going to come out and give it our all. To beat the number one team in the conference would be huge,” head coach Kristen Holt said. “We are kind of on an adrenaline right now and I hope that carries into Wednesday. I just hope we can ride this wave.”

Utah was perfect in MWC play until San Diego State defeated the Utes 55-49 last Wednesday night, which negated a 12-game winning streak.

The Utes bounced back from the loss to SDSU Saturday afternoon, running away from Air Force, 57-32.

The Rams go into tonight’s game after a 30-point victory over the UNLV Lady Rebels Saturday afternoon.

“It was a great game and the fact we sent a message out there was big,” sophomore Zoi Simmons said. “We are ready for Utah.”

The win ended a five-game losing streak for CSU and gave the team a lot of confidence heading into tonight’s game.

Last time out sophomore Bonnie Barbee lead the Rams in scoring with a career-high 19-point performance off the bench. Three other players — junior Juanise Cornell, senior Britney Minor, and Simmons — ended Saturday’s game scoring double figures.

“It gave me confidence because I have been up and down with scoring and it is nice to be getting that back,” Barbee said. “I have been working on getting the ball to the hole and dishing it inside and trying to make my play good all around.”

Cornell continues to impress, scoring in double digits in four consectutive games. She has averaged 11.9 points per game and 6.6 rebounds in her past four games.

In Saturday’s game all players for CSU received playing time, with all but two scoring at least two points.

Last time the Rams faced Utah on Jan. 17, the Utes handed CSU their third conference loss, 74-38.

“I just want to beat them (Utah) so we can hopefully get in the middle of the conference and have a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament,” Simmons said.

The Rams have not defeated Utah in regular season play since Feb. 13, 2003. However, the Rams pulled off a huge upset over the Utes last March in the MWC Tournament, which has created tension between the two schools.

“We just want to beat Utah really bad,” Cornell said after Saturday’s win. “They should be scared, really scared. We have a chip on our shoulders for them coming in our house and mocking us earlier this season. We are ready for Utah.”

Three players for the Utes are currently averaging more than 10 points per game. Senior guard Morgan Warburton leads Utah in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game, with her teammate junior forward Kalee Whipple not far behind at 17.3 points per game.

“You can’t let them (Warburton and Whipple) go crazy. They are going to score a lot of points and it’s going to be hard to shut them down. We just have to not let the other players hurt us,” coach Holt said.

Tipoff for tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on AM 1410 KIIX in the Fort Collins area and live statistics will be available on the CSURams.com web page by clicking the “Gametracker” link.

Women’s basketball beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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