Defending one scoring threat is difficult enough, but when the New Mexico women’s basketball team comes to town, teams have to be ready to defend every inch of the floor.
The Lobos, who play CSU in Moby Wednesday at 7 p.m., boast five players averaging over seven points per game and shooting better than 46.6 percent from the field.
Senior guard Caroline Durbin leads the team, scoring 12.6 points per game and shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the three point line, but the Rams cannot focus their defense completely around her or they will get burned by supplementary players.
“You just gotta compete. There’s no game plan for competing and toughness,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said. “That’s where it starts. We’re going to have to be extremely active and do it collectively.”
On top of that, New Mexico fields one of the more athletic teams that the Rams will match up with this year.
Nine out of the 14 players on New Mexico’s roster stand 6 feet tall or taller and the Lobos take advantage of that height along with a coach-instilled sense of hustle to out-rebound their opponents by nearly six per game, which ranks second in the Mountain West.
“They’re always going to come in and play really hard. They’re going to go for rebounds, and get 50 50 balls,” CSU forward Sam martin said. “You have to throw the first punch in basketball and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Most of CSU’s arsenal this season has included a strong effort on defense and the boards, but the team has struggled to put the ball in the basket, only averaging 55.6 points per game, which puts them at 8th out of the nine team Mountain West.
Returning home after spending a majority of the winter break away should help the Rams gain some confidence and traction in the Mountain West standings.
“We’re so close to where we want to be and I think being at home will give us that little push to get there,” CSU junior guard Hayley Thompson said. “It’s all us, turnovers, mental mistakes that we’re making. While it’s frustrating, the good side is it’s all stuff that we can control.”
Coach Williams has stressed recently that there’s only so much his staff can do in terms of instilling a physical and mental toughness and that it is up to the team to make those necessary changes.
Playing the next two games at home gives the Rams that opportunity.
“It’s nice to be able to play in front of our home fans, but it’s important that we take advantage of it. I don’t think we’ve done as good a job as we need to protect our home court. They need to understand the pride of wearing green and gold in Fort Collins,” Williams said. “The conference is always a grind and you do have to take it one game at a time. Protecting your home court is crucial. This will allow us to get even in conference and start the climb.”