Saturday afternoon is the last stop on a long train ride for the CSUâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball team, as it finishes the regular season at Utah.
â€œItâ€™s one of those things you canâ€™t believe itâ€™s here already, but it is,â€ said head coach Kristen Holt.
The Utes (18-10, 9-6 MWC) have won 12 straight regular season games against the Rams, a stretch that dates back to 2003. CSU led by three with less than three minutes remaining in the teamsâ€™ earlier meeting this season, but couldnâ€™t hold on as Utah prevailed 68-65 in Fort Collins.
Since that game, the Rams have gone 2-5, while Utah has won five of seven.
â€œOver the course of the year weâ€™ve really grown,â€ Holt said. â€œWeâ€™ve had to grow up in this conference, and thatâ€™s a tough place for that to happen.â€
Utah senior forward Kalee Whipple leads the Mountain West Conference in scoring at 17.4 points per game, as well as bringing down 6.5 rebounds per game and shooting 77 percent from the free throw line.
The Utes also boast one of the conferenceâ€™s top freshmen, Taryn Wicijowski. She leads all freshman in scoring and rebounding at 14.1 points and nearly 7 boards per game, as well as making 55.2 percent of her shots â€“â€“ first in the conference.
â€œTheyâ€™re two very good players, especially Whipple,â€ Holt said. â€œAnybody would like to have that type of player on their team. She knows how to win.â€
Forwards Meghan Heimstra and Chatilla van Grinsven have staged a resurgence in their last two games following a down stretch in early February. They both scored 16 points in Wednesday nightâ€™s loss to San Diego State and grabbed eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
â€œI thought they did a great job against Paris Johnson and (Jessika) Bradley,â€ Holt said
For the Rams, a win would mean seventh place in the MWC Championships due to owning the tiebreaker against UNLV, but their opponent still remains a mystery.
â€œThereâ€™s still a lot of jockeying for position here,â€ Holt said, â€œThereâ€™s a lot of scenarios, almost so many that we donâ€™t even really look at it.â€
CSU could match up against Utah or Wyoming in the first round depending on how tomorrowâ€™s games go.
â€œItâ€™d be a really awesome win, and thatâ€™s why weâ€™re going there to play,â€ Holt said.
â€œI think weâ€™ll be ready to play not only this weekend, but next week (in the conference tournament).â€
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.
- When: Saturday
- Time: 2 p.m.
- Where: Salt Lake City Item Three
- Listen: Gametracker