Women’s Basketball: Fresno State seeks first Mountain West home win against Colorado State

Fresno State center Toni Smith, head coach Jaime White and guard Raven Fox discuss Wednesday's win over San Diego State Aztecs. (Paul Schlesinger/The Collegian)

Wednesday was another day in the office for the Fresno State women’s basketball team.

Fresno State head coach Jaime White began by focusing on game film, preparing a starting lineup and getting the players ready to know the matchups. Then it’s back to the game tapes.

“I watch film until coaches think I’m crazy,” she said. “I want to feel really prepared.”

After, there was shootaround, a meal in the Bulldog Foundation Room, rest and a pregame discussion with the team.

“Recently, I think our defense and transition has been really good,” White said. “So one of the things we talk about the most is to just be us,” White said.

The game, White said, is the prize. That’s where all the hard work at practice can be shown to the Red Wave.

That showcase ended with a 57-50 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs.

On Thursday, the ‘Dogs were back on the court. This time, it was to work on mistakes made during the San Diego State match. See, the ‘Dogs may be on a 12-game winning streak and undefeated in the conference, but work is far from done.

That’s because on Saturday, the second-best team comes to town: the Colorado State Rams.

This game is more important than just raising the win streak to 13. The Rams were the last Mountain West team to beat the ‘Dogs, a 53-47 defeat in Fort Collins, Colorado, last February. They were also the team Fresno State had to beat to win the Mountain West Championship last March.

But more importantly, the Rams trail the Bulldogs by only one game. If Colorado State wins, the top spot is shared.

White and her staff were up early Thursday morning and watched game film throughout the day. With a tough opponent coming to town, the coaches want to be ready come practice time.

Scouting the Rams

Colorado State’s quiet success is still new. Last year, it put up its most successful season in the Mountain West in 13 years.

Going into the weekend, the Rams have won 11 of their last 12 games and are riding an eight-game winning streak.

However, Colorado State has played with variety. The Rams have used nine different starting lineups in 18 games, but that is not a problem for White and her squad.

“I don’t worry too much about the starting lineup, because it will always change,” White said. “I worry about matchups: who is in what position, and who comes in for her. Our kids are good at understanding what the next kid does, who guards who and how.

“As long as we know that, the lineup does not matter.”

Despite the inconsistent lineup, senior Gritt Ryder leads the team in both minutes played (35.2) and points per game (11.4).

And with the battle of the conference’s best teams on the horizon, the game is just like any other game for White. For her team, especially the senior class, this is time for it to prove itself.

“The girls visualize this as the championship game,” she said. “I do think there is an alertness and an awareness, and then we have to put it all together.

“It’s all about doing what we do. It’s just a basketball game. We have to go out and get better ourselves. We keep the focus there, and it relaxes the nerves and anxiety of all the other stuff.”

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