CSU women’s basketball heading to L.A. showdown with Loyola Marymount

It’s time for the CSU women’s basketball team to hit the road after four straight home games to open the season.

The Rams play Loyola Marymount Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the Gersten Pavillion in Los Angeles to start their road schedule.

Loyola won its first three home games by more than eight points per game, and won four out of its last five games overall.

The Lions score 68 points per game, which ranks third in the West Coast Conference, and accumulate much of their scoring in transition.

They lead the West Coast Conference with 12.6 steals per game, and CSU’s coaching staff has stressed the increased importance of taking care of the ball.

“We have to be able to handle their pressure. We’ve had a lot of games where teams have been up in our face, and we need to handle it a little better,” junior forward Sam Martin said. “We have to top them in transition, and make them play against our half court defense.”

Much of Loyola’s offensive firepower comes from their preseason All-WCC selection guard Alex Cowling.

She ranks third in the conference in scoring at 16.7 points per game, while also pulling down 7.4 rebounds per game and shooting 81.3 percent from the free throw line.

“She’s a big time player that can really score the ball in a variety of different ways,” CSU coach Ryun Williams said. “She’s a headache for anyone that goes against her.”

The Rams won two of their four games in their season opening homestand, and acknowledge there are areas of their game that need to be improved.

“We’re definitely not where we want to be, and it gives us motivation to know we can play better than that,” sophomore forward Kara Spotton said.

The first road game on CSU’s schedule may provide some headaches for a team lacking experience.

The Rams only have one senior on their roster, and rely on three players who have never played Division I basketball before in freshman Taylor Varsho and Emily Johnson and junior college transfer Alicia Nichols.

“With all the youth we’re putting on the floor, and the inexperience, there’s going to be some inconsistencies,” Williams said. “We just want to keep things as normal as possible. The road can be good for you; it brings a team closer.”

CSU won’t return to Fort Collins after the game against Loyola, and will instead stay on the road and travel to Bowling Green for its next game Dec. 1.

“It’s hard to play on the road. Right now we have a six day road trip to play two games,” Martin said. “A strong start would keep spirits high, and it makes trips a lot more fun when you’re winning.”