The CSU womenâ€™s basketball team will play its first game of the spring semester tonight at 8 p.m. inside UNLVâ€™s Cox Pavilion.
UNLV head coach Kath Oliver has guided the Runninâ€™ Rebels to an 8-10 record this season, going 1-3 thus far in conference play.
â€œTheyâ€™re a young team like we are,â€ CSU Coach Kristen Holt said. â€œI would say theyâ€™re more guard oriented than post oriented. They have a couple of freshmen that are scoring well for them and can penetrate.â€
UNLV freshman Kelli Thompson is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds and Mia Bell recently hit a game-winning shot against Utah. The Rebels are led in scoring by junior guard Erica Helms, who poured in 19 in their last time out.
The Rams enter tonightâ€™s contest ranked seventh in the nine-team Mountain West Conference, one spot ahead of UNLV. A win would move them up to fourth or fifth, depending on other results, which helps tremendously when the conference tournament rolls around in March.
In the tournament, the top three seeds receive a bye, and beyond that seeding is determined by final conference records, so every win becomes crucial.
On Saturday, CSU lost to BYU after being up by nine early in the game, a performance that followed a string of slow starts for the Rams.
â€œWe tend to try to feel out teams and figure out if we can compete with them,â€ junior guard Bonnie Barbee said. â€œAnd if we play hard, we can compete with anyone. The lulls are just us trying to figure out a team and who weâ€™re playing against.â€
Over the course of the Winter Break, sophomore Chatilla van Grinsven averaged more than 13 points per game in a stretch that saw her score in double figures for five straight games.
â€œI feel like I have a lot more experience than at the beginning of the year,â€ van Grinsven said, â€œIâ€™m working a lot on my own and with my coaches after practice. Itâ€™s all experience and confidence.â€
CSU has not lost to UNLV since Feb. 9, 2008, winning the last three games in the series. â€œWe beat them twice last year so Iâ€™m sure (Oliver) reminded them that they wanna get a little bit of revenge, so it should be a good game,â€ coach Holt said.
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
Next Game: CSU vs. UNLV
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: Las Vegas