After coming off of a tough loss on Saturday against conference rival Wyoming, the Rams head into Wednesday night’s home game against UNLV with a fresh mind and renewed team energy.
The days that immediately followed the Rams’ loss to the Cowgirls were filled with thoughts and feelings of “would haves” and “should haves.” Regardless of what the scoreboard in Laramie read at the final buzzer, the Rams are feeling as competitive as ever going into their final three games of the regular season.
“Our message to the girls in our practice on Monday was just ‘onward.’” head coach Ryun Williams said. “It was one loss. We don’t celebrate our victories all that much, we just move on from them and that’s how we’re handling the Wyoming loss. Our biggest thing is to keep the urgency level where it’s at.”
In the few days that the Rams have had between their matchup with Wyoming and their Wednesday night home game against the No. 7 conference ranked UNLV Rebels, the Rams have reflected on their missteps and made the necessary corrections.
“We’ve really been focusing on our energy level and competitiveness lately,” guard Gritt Ryder said. “It’s been strong this whole season but we just didn’t show up to play against Wyoming. The drills coach has been running have had us going really hard at each other and I think that will prepare us for going into UNLV tomorrow.”
In their first matchup with UNLV this season, the Rams beat the Rebels by double digits in their dominant 66-48 victory in Las Vegas. However, despite their success against this particular team, the Rams aren’t going into Wednesday’s matchup with any other attitude than humility and a willingness to win.
“Every game is a challenge,” Williams said. “Especially at this time of year in the late conference season and you’re playing a team for the second time, it’s hard to win college basketball games. I don’t care where you’re at, it’s difficult.”
“The challenges come in that everyone is prepared and you’ve got to make basketball plays. UNLV is talented. We’re going to have to contain the dribble and contain the glass and win the paint and hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to win,” Williams said.
With this tip-off at Moby against the Rebels comes the final stretch of the regular season for the Rams, along with the mark of the most successful season this program has seen in over a decade.
Even after their loss at Laramie, the Rams still stand atop the Mountain West conference and have an overall season record of 21-5. Only two of their losses have come from conference teams, and if they defeat the Rebels on Wednesday night, CSU will clinch the No. 1 spot in the conference tournament.
But despite the records they’ve set and the chemistry they’ve developed throughout the course of this season, the Rams are still taking it one day at a time and not letting thoughts of a conference championship title blur their vision of the next game.
“We need to win and that’s all that we have in mind right now,” Ryder said. “We don’t think about there only being three games left, we just think about UNLV coming in here tomorrow.”
Williams sums up the mentality of the team best by reiterating their “one game at a time” approach that has worked so well for them this season.
“We’re not looking as far as the conference tournament yet,” Williams said. “We will never do that. We’ve got UNLV on Wednesday and if our focus is anywhere other than there, we’re losing.”
Collegian Reporter Hannah Cornish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @hmcornish.