Cowgirl basketball: Catching up and looking forward

The 2014 women's basketball team sits on the bench during a game. The Cowgirls are currently sitting at No. 2 in the Mountain West. (Photo taken from UW database)

Starting the season out with a four-game winning streak, the Cowgirls were looking to have a very promising season, but that vision would soon be dampened by the three-game losing streak that immediately followed.

A basketball season is bound to be filled with ups and downs, and the Cowgirls season has been nothing short of that.

But it was still very early to predict any sort of outcome for the Cowgirls long season ahead. Following their three-game losing streak early in the season, the Cowgirls went on yet another winning streak, in which they beat Idaho State and Colorado Christian College at home and Idaho on the road.

“Any road win is a good win, no matter what team it was,” Senior Liv Roberts said. “In the preseason when we played Idaho (on the road), that was a huge win for us.”

The Cowgirls tried to take the momentum from those wins into what would be the toughest game of their season, playing No. 14 Duke on the road. The Cowgirls knew they were going to have to play very strong to hold their own against one of the nation’s best teams. When it was all said and done the Cowgirls had fallen to Duke 63 – 40.

For a team to continue doing well, they need to move past their losses and learn from them, and that was exactly the Cowgirls’ mentality.

“Playing those types of teams (Duke) is not only fun and challenging, but it also shows us where we needed to improve. Playing Duke was an awesome opportunity for us,” Roberts said. “I think we learned a lot about different ways to play defense against post kids who are much larger than us and how to get through their traps and their pressure.”

Following their loss to Duke the Cowgirls immediately had a rough start into conference play, losing 68 – 62 to San Diego State on the road. But a win over Nevada at home and a huge win over Boise on the road would set the Cowgirls in motion for a very strong start in conference play, beating New Mexico at home and CSU on the road the following two games.

“Our biggest upset this season was probably beating CSU in Fort Collins or beating Boise in Boise, that was only coach Joe’s second win in Boise,” Senior forward Natalie Baker said. “And my class, personally, had never beaten CSU in Fort Collins so those stuck out to me this year.”

The Cowgirls won three more consecutive games, totaling to a seven-game winning streak, and putting them first in the Mountain West Conference with a 7 – 1 record.

But the Cowgirls would hit yet another bump in their season, losing to CSU at home and Fresno State on the road. But the Cowgirls don’t get discouraged easy, and they planned to keep progressing.

“I think as a team we’ve improved on relying on multiple people and not just Liv, our all-conference player,” Baker said. “We’ve started relying on players off of the bench and that makes it really hard to guard us when we have so many threats.”

Moving past a loss and continuing to improve and learn has been the Cowgirls main objective this season and could quite possibly be the reason they are sitting at No. 2 in the Mountain West.

“I think we’ve improved in many different ways,” Roberts said. “We’ve improved in not turning the ball over as much, as well as playing team defense.”

The Cowgirls’ most recent game was Wednesday, Feb. 7 against Utah State in Logan where the Cowgirls cruised to a 64 – 46 win over the Aggies.

The Cowgirls face off against UNLV this Saturday in Laramie at 2 PM MST.

“I think UNLV will be our toughest game, we haven’t seen them yet and their sitting first over us, so it should be an exciting game Saturday,” Baker said.

From there the Cowgirls hope to maintain momentum and finish out the season as strong as possible.

“Hopefully we can finish first or second in our conference,” Baker said. “I would like for us to win the Mountain West Championship and go on to the NCAA tournament. If not that, I at least expect some post-season play in the WNIT. I expect big things from this group and I expect us to be continually competitive in our last games this season.”

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