The CSU womenâ€™s basketball team is treating today as the start of a new season.
The Mountain West Conference tournament starts today, and the Rams look to get going early and often this afternoon.
CSU earned the fourth seed for the tournament and will take on the ninth-seeded Air Force Academy today at 2 p.m.
Earning the fourth seed was crucial for the Rams as they did not have to face the top three teams in the conference to start the tournament. After dropping five games in a row, CSU got a must win against San Diego State University and got help from a Utah loss that secured the fourth seed.
â€œWe were all really excited to be able to finish in fourth. It was very exciting,â€ senior Sara Hemmings said.
The two teams have met twice already this season with the Rams sweeping the series, most recently beating Air Force 70-49. CSU coach Kristin Holt has never lost to the Academy in the six times she has faced them.
â€œHaving those two wins, we know we should beat them,â€ Hemmings said.
Even with the two wins, CSU understands how hard it is to beat a team three times in a season.
â€œ(Air Force) is a great team. We have to come prepared and not underestimate them,â€ freshman Sam Martin said.
Martin has been key in the series sweep over Air Force. Martin has been productive in the post for the Rams, recording a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the previous game against the Falcons.
Holt knows the Falcons will focus on Martin and team leading scorer junior Kim Mestdagh.
The game plan will be to make sure everyone contributes offensively.
â€œI am sure that Sam and Kim will be a focus, and that is why we are going to need all our scorers to contribute,â€ Holt said.
CSU expects Air Force to come out with their signature full court press and try to score on transition. Holt expects the Falcons to come out and go for the upset against an in-state rival.
â€œI think (Air Force) will press us more than they have. I think they will let it all go,â€ Holt said.
Air Force does have upset potential with big wins over TCU and UNLV this season. The Rams aim to come out early and put Air Force away fast in the first half.
â€œWe canâ€™t let them feel like they can play with us,â€ Holt said.
After the most successful regular season in conference since 2003-04, the Rams are going in with confidence.
â€œWe are looking to win a championship,â€ Martin said.
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter David de Besche can be reached at email@example.com.