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Women’s hoops get last shot at top team in Mountain West

Home court advantage has been beneficial this season for the Colorado State women’s basketball team, and the Rams are hopeful it will be enough to help them take down the No. 1 team in the conference. 

“We have to put the road trip behind us as the top team in the conference, Fresno State, comes into town,” head coach Ryun Williams said. “We took them down to the wire at their place, and we expect another competitive game.”

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Coming off two tough road losses to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Nevada that sank their road record to 2-8, the Rams return to Moby, where they have a much better record of 8-4.

The Rams currently sit at No. 7 in the 11-team standings, and with only seven games left in the regular season, a top-five team seed to secure a bye is attainable, but it won’t be a cakewalk.

Starting that stretch off against Fresno State, who is 18-4 overall and 11-0 in the conference, will be no easy task. 

One thing going for the Rams is how they almost handed the Bulldogs their first conference loss of the season on Jan. 22 but came up just short in a 55-53 road loss. The matchup will feature Fresno State’s high-powered offense against Colorado State’s defense, the second-best scoring defense in the MW. 

Last time around, the Rams held the Bulldogs’ No. 2 scoring offense in the conference, which averages 77 points a game, to just 55 points, but they lost the game on a buzzer-beater floater. Coming into this contest, the Rams’ game plan should be identical to last time: playing tough defense and shutting down the Bulldogs’ offensive weapons. 

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Andrea Brady (32) jumps against a defender looking to score. (Luke Bourland | The Collegian)

Fresno currently has three players who are in the top five in conference scoring: junior Maddi Utti and the freshman pair of Haley and Hanna Cavinder (twins). The trio has combined for over half of the team’s scoring, pouring in 62.79% (1,063) of the team’s total points, each averaging over 15 points per game. Like last time, limiting these three will be key to keeping this game winnable for CSU.

For the Rams to have a chance to take this one, Andrea Brady and Makenzie Ellis will need to continue their impressive play. Ellis has notched double-digit points in 11 of her past 13 games, and since the beginning of January, she’s averaging 15.2 ppg. At the same time, Brady sits third in the MW in rebounds, averaging 9.2 per game. She also has achieved 9.5 ppg since the turn of the new year. 

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight, Feb. 5, at Moby Arena.

 “We love playing at home, and our crowd has been supportive all season, so we are looking forward to another battle,” Williams said. 

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Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan.

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