By Jay Zwahlen
The BYU women”s basketball team looks to maintain its perfect Mountain West Conference start against Colorado State Thursday, (Jan. 18, 2007) at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center.
The Cougars are 3-0 in their conference games this year and 12-4 overall. They are coming off an exciting home victory over Wyoming in which Jennie Keele hit a 50-foot buzzer-beater for the win.
BYU will be hosting a depleted Rams team because of the suspensions of four Rams freshmen, including leading scorer Kelly Jo Mullaney.
The players were suspended indefinitely before their most recent game against New Mexico for a prank involving a homemade bomb.
CSU head coach Jen Warden would not comment if she would be traveling to Provo with the suspended players.
“They”ll come out relaxed because they don”t have anything to lose in this game,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “She”ll probably play a zone against us and hopefully what we”ll be able to do is execute well in the zone and hit some shots and get the ball inside. Defensively, we will need to get a lot of pressure on them and make them speed up.”
The Cougars have thrived this year on their balance between low-post and perimeter scoring. Dani Wright leads the way in the paint with 12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Mallary Gillespie leads the guards with 11.8 points per game. Melinda Johnsen averages the most assists on the team with 3.9 per game.
The play of Shawnee Slade has given the Cougars a huge boost off the bench. She not only guards the opposing team”s best player, but in the she has averaged 13.5 points in the past two games. Her field goal percentage is a staggering 69 percent over those two games, including a perfect performance of 5-5 from behind the arc.
“BYU is so well coached and he has recruited tremendous size in the post,” Warden said. “[Judkins] has done a wonderful job developing a balanced team on the perimeter as well. You really have to pick your poison when you play BYU.”
Warden said that she is most concerned with the play of Gillespie.
“Gillespie is a dynamic player. She defends so well and she has a great outside shot.”
The Rams are coming off a home loss to New Mexico where they got blown out 73-42. CSU has a conference record of 1-3 and an overall record of 6-10.
“I think that winning on the road is important, but more importantly, you have got to win at home,” Judkins said. “We knew that last week was a big week, but this week is big because if we don”t take care of business, we can let something slip from us that shouldn”t.”