After struggling early in the season, CSUâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball this weekend has a chance to achieve something it has been working toward all year: a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Rams can advance to the Big Dance with three wins in the Mountain West Tournament, but the first hurdle they must jump will be Boise State, which CSU takes on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.
â€œIâ€™m just trying to make (the season) last as long as possible,â€ said senior guard Kim Mestdagh. â€œI think we all know whatâ€™s on the line and I think weâ€™re more thinking about winning the (MW) championship than thinking itâ€™s our last game.â€
In order to move on to the second round of the tournament, CSU will have to beat Boise State for the third time this year.
CSU got the better of Boise State the first two times they played each other, beating them by eight points on the road Jan. 17 and by nine points at home Feb. 14.
One of the keys for the Rams in the second victory was holding Lauren Lenhardt, the seventh-leading scorer in the conference, to just four points, and committing six fewer turnovers as a team than their opponent.
â€œIn our last game (against Boise State), we forced them into 22 turnovers,â€ CSU coach Kristen Holt said. â€œKeeping Lenhardt down and causing them to turn it over really helped us win that game.â€
In addition to slowing down some of Boise Stateâ€™s main scorers, the Rams will look to exploit the height advantage they have in the post.
CSU senior forward Kelly Hartig had one of the best games of her career the last time the two teams met, recording a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds, a performance she said she hopes to duplicate tonight.
â€œWe match up really well with them,â€ said the 6-foot-3 Hartig. â€œI think Iâ€™m gonna try to come out with the same mentality (as last time) and really be aggressive.â€
The games over the weekend will be played at a neutral site, Las Vegas. The Rams played two neutral-site games this year in Cancun, Mexico, losing both, but maintain those contests have prepared them for postseason play.
â€œI think itâ€™s good,â€ said Holt, of the experience of playing on a neutral court. â€œPlaying in a place where itâ€™s not the teamâ€™s home court and itâ€™s not oursâ€”thatâ€™s why we did what we did in the non-conference, to kind of prepare us for a tournament game like this.â€
Womenâ€™s basketball Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.
Who: No. 3 CSU vs. No. 6 Boise State
What: Conoco Mountain West Championships
When: Wednesday, 9:35 p.m. MT
Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas
TV: The Mtn.