CSU women’s hoops team looks to cement its legacy

Sam Lounsberry

A school record is on the line Wednesday night in Moby Arena.

If the CSU women’s basketball team can take down Utah State, the Rams (22-1, 12-0 MW) will have cemented their own place in the record book with a 20th consecutive win, which would be the longest win-streak in school history.

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With their victory Saturday over UNLV, the Rams tied CSU’s longest winning streak of 19 games, set by the 1998-99 team led by women’s basketball pioneer Becky Hammon, who is in her second season as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs after becoming the first-ever female NBA assistant last year.

Hammon’s status in the world of basketball is a motivating factor for this year’s CSU women to topple one of her team’s accolades.

“It’s awesome that we’re breaking it, because she’s such a legend and her team was a legend,” CSU guard Jamie Patrick said. “So it’s really awesome to be compared to them.”

But, simultaneously, the Rams’ desire to beat the Aggies (11-12, 6-5 MW) Wednesday night stems from another goal besides simply extending their historic streak: finishing MW play without a conference loss.

“Yes, that is a huge accomplishment, breaking the school record and stuff, but I think it’s mainly staying undefeated and getting to the conference tournament (that is most important),” Patrick said. “But it’s definitely going to be exciting if on Wednesday — when on Wednesday — we win and break the school record. It’ll be pretty cool.”

But the Aggies will present some problems for the Rams before a record is broken. As a sophomore, USU guard Funda Nakkasoglu has already proven she can will her team to win purely with her scoring ability. Her season average of 21.8 points per game leads the Mountain West by a margin of nearly four points per game. Simply said, Nakkasoglu gets buckets, and from nearly anywhere on the floor, as she shoots 36 percent from the three-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line.

“She’s the leading scorer in our conference,” Patrick said of Nakkasoglu. “She’s definitely really good and creates really well and can get through gaps.”

On the road in Logan last month, Nakkasoglu went for 19 points, but CSU still came away with a 20-point victory, 69-49.

“We were just talking today how we played pretty well there, but we could also play a lot better,” Patrick added. “I think we’re excited to play our overall game and shut her (Nakkasoglu) down, and I think she had almost 20 last time, so it would be nice to hold her and hold the rest of the team.”

While the Rams have been rolling this season, dominating the conference for a third straight year now as they appear poised to three-peat as MW regular season champs, Moby’s student section has remained empty during women’s games. The Rams hope the prospect of breaking a school record Wednesday night changes that.

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“We hope so (that students attend Wednesday),” forward Ellen Nystrom said. “We’ve been hoping that for the last three years. But maybe this year. It takes a while for people to recognize we’re good, and to hear that we’re actually good. We just try to make people think it’s fun to watch us, and just tell their friends to come watch us.”

Wednesday’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Moby Arena.

Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @samlounz.