In their last meeting, Fresno State beat Colorado State last year to win the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball tournament title.
The programs’ next meeting Saturday afternoon at the Save Mart Center has almost as much at stake.
“This game is crucial,” said Fresno State’s Robin Draper. “I’m so glad we’re at home. We’re going to treat it like any other game but everyone knows it’s a big game and a test for us.”
The Rams (15-4, 7-1), preseason picks to win the Mountain West, are in second place. They’ve won seven in a row since a loss at Boise State to start conference play. (And they avenged the loss this week, beating the third-place Broncos 83-82 in Fort Collins.)
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The first-place Bulldogs (16-3, 8-0) have won 12 straight, matching the program’s second longest winning streak. Fresno State is 10-0 at home this season, too.
But Saturday is Fresno State’s first test against either Colorado State or Boise State — a tidbit that coach Jaime White said keeps her program “humble and wanting to win.”
“It will help us know where we are really at in our league and what we have to do better,” White said.
Fresno State owns the Mountain West’s best scoring defense (allowing 52.6 points per game), but has yet to play a team that shoots as well as the Rams (conference third-best 42% from the field including 32% on 3-pointers).
The Rams are led by senior guard Gritt Ryder who is averaging 11.4 points per game and nearly back to full health after a series of leg and ankle injuries earlier in the season. She scored 24 Wednesday against Boise State.
Rams’ Wharry coming home
Former Edison High and Fresno City College standout Keyora Wharry averages 18.5 minutes per game in her first season at Colorado State. She said she’s “beyond excited” about finally getting on the floor at the Save Mart Center: “It’s kind of been like a weird dream to play against Fresno State.”
Wharry was a New Mexico State recruit out of Edison but a knee injury sidelined her early in fall 2011 and she missed all three of the Aggies’ games against the Bulldogs that season.
She transferred to Fresno City where she helped the Rams to the state final four, was named state Player of the Year for the NorCal Region and set school career records in points and rebounds.
She might’ve joined the Bulldogs afer last season, but switched to Colorado State after coach Raegan Pebley left Fresno State for TCU.
“There’s no hard feelings at all,” Wharry said. “That’s just how the dominoes fell. I committed to them, then a minute later the coach left.”
She has played in every game for Colorado State, starting 11 and averaging 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Wharry said she’s excited to play in front of her mother, Renee Wilson, and aunts Nina Ruiz and Anna Williams: “I’m happy to see family, I’m not going to lie. But first I want to get my focus down, which is to win the game and help my teammates any way I can, and make (my family) smile again because they haven’t seen me play in a while.”