Rams Seek Redemption Thursday in WNIT
By Justin Michael
Colorado Sate women's basketball team gets a shot at redemption Thursday night, hosting Western Illinois in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). The Rams are coming off a 25-point loss to Boise State in the Mountain West Tournament semi-final.
The Rams are making their fifth consecutive post-season appearance.
One of four MW teams in the WNIT field, CSU will face Western Illinois for just the second time. The only other meeting was on Dec. 5, 1987, when the Rams defeated the Leathernecks 70-51.
While it not be a historied rivalry on paper, much will be at stake for both of these programs and Western Illinois is a certainly a team CSU cannot afford to take lightly. The purple and gold (22-9, 10-4) are coming off a third place finish in the Summit League and can score points in bunches. WIU scored at least 80 points 18 times this season and topped triple digits four times.
They also snagged road wins over Stanford and Illinois, so they have to problem going into a tough environment and sending the home crowd disappointed.
With a tough draw in the first round, seniors Hannah Tvrdy and Stine Austgulen are going to have to step up and lead the way.
When the Rams defeated Fresno State in the MW quarterfinal, the dynamic senior duo essentially never left the floor. Austgulen played 40 minutes and scored 14 points, while Tvrdy totaled 38 minutes and scored a team-high 15 points. In the loss to Boise State the next day, Austgulen sat just four minutes and Tvrdy only sat for two minutes.
These two have been workhorses for Williams all season and for the most part it has paid off.
Austgulen (.448) led the team in 3-point shooting this season and Tvrdy was a general on both ends of the floor. The Nebraska native led the Rams in scoring, averaging 12 points per-game and is one of the better defenders in the league, which was validated with her all-conference and all-defensive honors.
If the Rams are going to have any chance of advancing to the round of 32 for a second consecutive season, getting production from the veterans will be paramount. The other crucial factor will be containing the paint and forcing the Leathernecks to take contested jump shots. The Rams gave up 42 points in the paint to the Broncos.
The winner of the game advances to face the winner of South Dakota vs. Houston. The game would take place between March 17-20, at a date, time and location to be determined.