While the rest of the student body rested over winter break, CSUâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball team was busy playing seven games in three different time zones.
The Rams finished the stretch winning only two of the seven games, but they feel as though the experience of playing difficult opponents will be beneficial during the conference portion of the schedule.
â€œWeâ€™ve been through a tough pre-conference schedule and certainly our record is not what we wanted it to be coming out of that,â€ CSU coach Kristen Holt said. â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™ve been extremely healthy, and thatâ€™s not helped.â€
The action started on Dec. 20 and 21, when the Rams faced off against Big 10 powers Michigan State and Indiana, falling to Michigan State 72-45, then Indiana 47-39.
â€œMichigan State was a really big challenge,â€ Holt said. â€œAnd then the Indiana game, like I said, we really competed, but we were only down to six players at one point (because of injuries).â€
Sam Martin and Kelly Hartig were hampered by knee injuries during the Indiana game with Martin playing 18 minutes and Hartig playing only four.
The Rams then closed out 2011 on Dec. 31 with a loss at home against Bowling Green 70-57, a game in which the Rams committed 17 costly turnovers.
Following a disappointing outing, CSU then went on the road and earned their first road win of the season on Jan. 4, defeating Cal State Bakersfield 65-63 off a late layup by Martin.
CSU then traveled to Washington on Jan. 8, where they fell to Seattle 61-43, before a big conference victory, 73-39 over Air Force at home on Jan. 11.
The Rams held Air Force to an 18.6 percent field goal percentage for the game, a performance CSU will be looking to duplicate for the rest of the season.
â€œI think defense is always like, one of our main focuses,â€ Martin said. â€œJust because, I mean, youâ€™ve always heard â€˜defense wins games,â€™ so weâ€™ve kind of always emphasized it.â€
Following one of their best defensive performances of the year, the Rams were unable to stop TCUâ€™s offense on the road Jan. 14, falling 79-71.
TCU got off to a hot start, going on a 15-0 run to start the game, but the Rams were able to battle back and pull to within four points at halftime.
â€œAfter the game, I feel like our team gained in confidence,â€ Holt said. â€œNot that youâ€™re satisfied with just losing by eight points, Iâ€™m not satisfied with losing at all, but I did think that we really fought back and did some good things.â€
CSU was able to weather the storm behind a career-high 17 points from freshman LaDeyah Forte, who credited her teammates with helping her find open shots.
â€œ(My teammates) were able to find me on the kick-out, so I have to give it to them,â€ Forte said. â€œAnd then, in transition, Iâ€™d just, you know, find the spot and was able to pull up.â€
Next, the Rams will play another conference game at Boise State tonight at 6:00 p.m.
CSU will try to slow down the best offense in the conference, as Boise State leads the MW with 72.9 points per game.
â€œI think that theyâ€™re a really good transition team, theyâ€™re really fast up and down the floor,â€ Holt said. â€œIf we donâ€™t stop them in transition itâ€™s gonna result in easy baskets for them, so I think thatâ€™s a big key for us.â€
Womenâ€™s Basketball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org