Fresh off of three convincing wins in only five days, the CSU women’s basketball team has another significant challenge awaiting them.
On Thursday night the Rams will take on the No. 18 Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder.
Through eight games, CU has yet to suffer a loss. They also picked up a quality seven-point victory over Kentucky, who was ranked No. 15 at the time. The Buffaloes have cruised through their non-conference schedule, winning by an average margin of 25.4 points.
A trio of sophomores have led the way so far fo CU in the scoring department. Kennedy Leonard, Alexis Robinson, and Ariana Freeman are each averaging doubt-digit points per game. Leonard has scored 16.3 points per game, while Robinson and Freeman are close behind with 12.4 and 12, respectively. Haley Smith, CU’s senior leader, has also scored 11.8 points per game respectively.
“I think their heartbeat is Hailey Smith, that kid is an unbelievable basketball player,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said. “Leonard and Robinson, when we played them early last year they were freshmen. They look like seniors now.”
Despite losing 11 out of their last 15 to their rivals, the Rams snuck away with a 64-63 win over the Buffaloes at Moby last season.
“Our kids believe,” Williams said. “We can control a basketball game. I think we learned a lot from that game last year. I think we grew from that game, but so did they. Now we’re going to Boulder. It’s going to be a whole different animal. We’ve got to be ready for physicality that we haven’t seen yet and energy that they haven’t played against yet. CU is going to bring a lot of juice, we’ve got to be ready to match it.”
Though the Rams are without three of their starters from last year’s contest, their leading scorers from the game are looking to give the Rams back-to-back wins over CU. Elin Gustavsson scored 22 against the Buffaloes last season and Ellen Nystrom cashed in 14.
“It’s always fun playing CU, it doesn’t matter if they’re ranked or not,” Nystrom said. “I know it’s going to be a tight game like it’s been the last four years. It’s going to be really fun.”
CSU is hoping that the third time will be the charm when it comes to facing ranked teams away from Fort Collins. Earlier this season, No. 11 Washington defeated CSU 101-68 in the second round of the Preseason WNIT in Seattle. No. 19 Oklahoma also outlasted the Rams 70-55 two weeks later in Oklahoma.
The game will be held at the Coors Event Center at 7 p.m MT. Tune into Pac-12.com to view a live video feed of the contest.
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz