Jan. 10, 2006
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The Matchup: The Utes have started Mountain West Conference play 0-2 for the first time in league history, despite being the overwhelming favorites to win the league title. This will be the 61st meeting between the two teams with the Utes holding a commanding 47-13 advantage in the all-time series, including a 26-4 mark in Salt Lake City. In Mountain West play, Utah owns an 8-4 record against CSU.
Scouting Utah: Utah is led by three-time MWC Player of the Year Kim Smith with 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Also averaging double figures in scoring is senior Shona Thorburn with 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a contest. Thorburn also leads the Mountain West with 6.6 assists per game.
Last Time Out: Despite a strong start that saw the Rams take a 13-3 lead just six minutes into the game, Colorado State was unable to hold off the No. 20/21 ranked New Mexico Lobos, falling 73-57 Saturday afternoon at Moby Arena. Four Rams finished with double figures in scoring, led by senior forward Melissa Dennett who finished with 15 points, 11 in the second half. Senior center Lindsay Thomas scored eight of her 14 points in the first half and junior guard Molly Nohr chipped in 12 points and a season-best eight rebounds. Senior guard Vanessa Espinoza also finished in double figures for Colorado State with 11 points.
From Long Range: Colorado State is shooting .380 from beyond the arc this season, which would be the second-best mark in school history. The record is .381 (169-443) held by the 1995-96 team. Individually, Vanessa Espinoza ranks second on the single-season chart, shooting .448 (26-58), second only to her own school record of .455 (51-112) from the 2003-04 season.
Guard Duty: The four guards that have played in all 13 games this season (Vanessa Espinoza, sophomore Sara Hunter, junior Liz Kramer and Molly Nohr) all have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. The four have combined for 142 assists and 101 turnovers (1.41), while the rest of the team is responsible for just 54 assists and 144 turnovers (0.38). Nohr ranks fourth in the conference with a ratio of 1.58, while Espinoza is ninth at 1.29.
Now That's What I Call Balance: The eight players that have played in all 13 games this season are responsible for 902 of the team's 909 points this season. The four guards (Espinoza, Hunter, Nohr and Kramer) have scored 451 of those points, while the posts (Dennett, Thomas, junior Marilyn Moulton and freshman Casie Shepherd) have also combined to score 451 points.
The Big Three: The trio of seniors, Melissa Dennett, Vanessa Espinoza and Lindsay Thomas are the biggest scoring trio in the Mountain West Conference. The three combine to score 39.2 points per game to lead the league. The next biggest triple threat comes from BYU with Ambrosia Anderson, Mallary Gillespie and Dani Kubik combining for 38.3 points per game.
A Rarity: No player in Mountain West Conference history has ever finished the season leading in both rebounds per game and blocks per game. Melissa Dennett currently leads the league with 9.0 rebounds per game and is a close second in blocks per game, averaging 1.62 (just one block behind Ellen Jaeschke of Air Force).
Taking Care of the Ball: In Colorado State's seven wins, the team is winning the turnover battle, averaging 18.3 turnovers, compared to 19.7 for the opposition, but in its losses, the Rams are averaging 19.5 turnovers per game, while forcing just 11.3. In the wins, the turnover margin is a +1.4, while it is -8.2 in the losses.
Tell-Tale Sign: If Colorado State leads at the half, more than likely the Rams will pull out the win. CSU is 6-1 in games this season when leading at the half, with the lone loss coming at Denver on Dec. 7. Over the last two years, CSU is 20-2 when either leading or tied at the end of the first stanza.
Getting To 20: Melissa Dennett scored 21 points against San Diego State on Thursday, marking the third time this season and the 11th time in her career the senior has scored 20 or more points in a contest. Dennett leads the team with 15.3 points per game. The 11 games of 20+ ties for seventh most in school history, but is 66 shy of the record of 77 held by all-time scoring leader Becky Hammon (1995-99).
Closing In: Melissa Dennett needs just 13 points to score her 1,000th career point. Dennett currently ranks 14th in school history in scoring with 987 points. Also closing in on one grand is Vanessa Espinoza. Espinoza has 954 points in her career to rank 16th on the school's scoring charts. This could be the first time in school history three players surpass the 1,000 career mark in the same year, as Lindsay Thomas currently has 1,036.
Rebounding Tandem: Melissa Dennett and Lindsay Thomas are combining to average 16.9 rebounds per game this season to lead the Mountain West Conference. The next best rebounding tandem is BYU's Ambrosia Anderson and Lauren Riley who combine for 14.6 rebounds a contest.
Etched: Melissa Dennett already appears on the Colorado State single-season list for blocked shots. The senior has 21 blocks in 13 games, which ranks 19th in school history. Teresa James (1992-93) owns the single-season record with 48. Dennett's high for a season is 36 from 2003-04 and she currently ranks third on the career charts with 90 blocks.
Quick Starts: In all but one game this season (Duke), Colorado State has either been tied or held the lead at the first media timeout. The Rams are outscoring the opponents 128-70, averaging 2.28 points per minute and allowing just 1.25 points per minute through the first four+ minutes in the contest. However, through the rest of the first half, the Rams are being outscored 285-355, averaging 1.40 points per minute, compared to 1.74 for the opposition.
Getting To The Line: In Colorado State's seven wins, the Rams are attempting 25.6 free throws per game and are making 19.4, compared to just 13.2 attempts and 9.3 makes in the losses. In victories, CSU is shooting .760 from the free throw line, while in the losses is shooting just .709 from the charity stripe.
Hitting A Grand: Lindsay Thomas became just one of 13 players in school history to score 1,000 points in a career, hitting her 1,000th point at the 1:57 mark of the second-half against Tulsa with a layup. Thomas now has 1,036 points to rank 13th on the school career charts and 19th in Mountain West Conference history. She needs two points to move into 12th on the CSU charts (1,037, Sherry Neely, 1981-85).
First Possession: Melissa Dennett has won the opening tip in all 13 games for the Rams this season. The Rams have scored first in 10 of the 13 games. She also won 20 of 28 opening tips during the 2004-05 season.
They're Accurate: The .643 (9-14) three-point field-goal percentage for the Rams at Texas-San Antonio is the fifth-best shooting performance from beyond the arc in school history and the second-best this season. The team also connected at a .692 (9-13) clip against Northern Colorado on Dec. 18. For the season, the Rams are shooting .396 (59-149) from the three-point line, which would be a new school record, surpassing the current record of .381 (169-443) from the 1995-96 team.
An Anomaly: Lindsay Thomas has been to the free throw line just 13 times in 13 games this season. The senior entered 2005-06 averaging just under 2.5 free throw attempts per contest, and this year is attempting just 1.0 per game. She has connected on 11 of those attempts for a .846 percentage.
Helping Hands: All five starters for Colorado State (Vanessa Espinoza, Sara Hunter, Molly Nohr, Melissa Dennett and Lindsay Thomas) are averaging at least 1.3 assists per game this year. Nohr leads the way with 4.0, which also ranks fourth in the Mountain West, while Espinoza averages 3.5, good for ninth in the conference. Dennett is at 2.2 per contest, while Hunter averages 2.1 and Thomas is at 1.3.
Career Milestones: Vanessa Espinoza moved into 16th in career scoring with 954 points, passing Shannon Strecker's 950 (1999-2003). She also moved into a tie for 16th in free throws made, tying Dametra Johnson's 174 (1988-90) and tied Katie Borton (1999-2003) for seventh in three-pointers made with 124. Lindsay Thomas moved into a tie for seventh on the career rebounds chart with 640, knotting Karen Hosek-Kreuzer (1981-85), while Melissa Dennett tied Angie Gorton's (1998-2002) 212 offensive rebounds for seventh on that chart.
Explosive Output: Colorado State ranks first in the Mountain West Conference in scoring offense this season, averaging 69.9 points per game. The Rams are also first in field-goal percentage, shooting .439 and lead the league in three-point field-goal percentage, connecting on .380 of their shots. CSU also ranks second in free throw percentage at .744.
Best In the Mountain West: Melissa Dennett leads the Mountain West Conference in rebounds per game with 9.0 a contest and is also on top in offensive rebounds with 4.23 per game, over a whole offensive board better than anyone else in the league (Michelle Strawberry, SDSU, 2.83). She also ranks second with 1.62 blocks per game, is second in field-goal percentage at .527 and is fourth in scoring (15.2). Molly Nohr ranks fourth in assists per game with an average of 4.00 and is fourth in assist/turnover ratio at 1.58, while Sara Hunter and Vanessa Espinoza are tied for fourth with 2.00 three-pointers a contest and Espinoza is fourth in three-point percentage, knocking down .448 of her shots. Lindsay Thomas ranks fourth in both rebounds (7.9) and defensive rebounds (5.85).
Among The Nation's Leaders: Colorado State currently ranks 18th in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage, shooing .396, while the Rams are also ranked 27th in free throw percentage, shooting .746 (out of 324 Division I schools). Statistics are through games played on January 2.
Starting Lineups: Colorado State has used the same starting lineup in all 13 games this season (Nohr, Dennett, Thomas, Hunter, Espinoza). Last season the Rams used six different starting lineups. The combination of Nohr, Hunter, Dennett, Thomas and Espinoza went 1-2 in 2004-2005.
On This Date: Colorado State is 2-4 in games played on January 14. The Rams are 1-2 both in Moby Arena and away from home. Colorado State and Utah have never faced each other on Jan. 14 before.
Double Your Pleasure: Lindsay Thomas and Melissa Dennett both tallied double-doubles in the games with South Dakota State, UC-Irvine, San Jose State and Tulsa. Thomas and Dennett had double-doubles in the same game three times last season. The Rams are 4-2 (1-3 this season) when both Thomas and Dennett record a double-double in the same game. Thomas has 18 career double-doubles, while Dennett has 15.
Dishing Them Out: Molly Nohr leads the team with 52 assists through 13 games, which ranks her fourth in the Mountain West Conference. She has also already surpassed her career-high for assists in a season, as in 2004-05, Nohr had 48 assists in 27 games for an average of 1.8 per contest. She now has 118 assists in her career.
Scoring 80: The Rams have scored 80 points in four games this season and are 4-0 in those games. Colorado State is 166-12 all-time when scoring at least 80 points in a game. The last time Colorado State lost after putting up 80+ was on Jan. 22, 2004 when the Rams lost to UNLV 83-92 in Las Vegas.
Dynamic Duo: Lindsay Thomas and Melissa Dennett are on pace to go down as the most prolific shot blocking duo in school history. Dennett has 90 career blocks and Thomas has 73. The tandem of Shannon Strecker and Ashley Augspurger currently are the best blocking tandem in school history with a combined 175 blocks.
Quite A Stretch: Colorado State has hit at least one three-pointer in the last 117 games, dating back to Jan. 17, 2002 against San Diego State. In that contest, the Rams were 0-14 from beyond the arc. That game snapped a 232 game streak, dating back to a Nov. 25, 1994 victory over Pennsylvania.
Fan Support: Colorado State has had at least 1,000 fans attend each of the last 153 home games. The last time the Rams played at home in front of fewer than 1,000 fans was Jan. 5, 1996 when Colorado State faced Idaho State.
Missing the Mark: The last time no Rams reached double figures in scoring was during the 2000-01 season. On March 10, 2001 no player reached double figures in a game against BYU. The Rams won that Mountain West Conference Tournament game 59-56. Colorado State had five players reach double figures in the season opener. This season the Rams have had at least one player reach double figures in scoring in every game this year.
Warden Hosts Pregame "Chalk Talks": This season Jen Warden will host a pregame "chalk talk" at all Colorado State home games. She will begin her talk 22 minutes prior to tip-off. The "chalk talks" are open to members of the Slam Dunk Club and will be held in the Hall of Fame room on the south concourse of Moby Arena. For more information on the Slam Dunk Club, contact Lisa Eakins at (970) 491-6569.
Coors Light Ram Basketball Coaches' Show: Catch Colorado State head women's basketball coach Jen Warden on the Colorado State Sports Network throughout the season. Warden will be on the Coors Light Ram Basketball Coaches' Show with head men's basketball coach Dale Layer live from the Fort Collins Hilton. The show starts at 7 p.m. MT. The broadcast can be heard on 600 AM KCOL in Fort Collins and 710 AM KNUS in Denver. Colorado State football and men's basketball play-by-play announcer Rich Bircumshaw will be the host. Broadcast Dates - January 16, January 23, January 30, February 6, February 13, February 20, February 27 and March 6.
The Last Meeting vs The Utes: Utah won a 77-69 matchup in Moby Arena on Feb. 26. Kim Smith led Utah with 22 points, while Shona Thorburn added 20. CSU was led by 18 points by Melissa Dennett, while both Lindsay Thomas and Sara Hunter chipped in 13 and Vanessa Espinoza added 12. The Rams battled back after being outscored 39-19 in the first-half to outscore the Utes 50-38 in the second-half, but it was not enough. Smith and Lana Sitterud led Utah with six rebounds, while Dennett had a game-high 13 boards.