Wyoming Cowgirls’ 9-game win streak snapped by Fresno State, 64-62

(UW Athletics photo)

(UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Cowgirls had a look in the final seconds to send the game to overtime, but the shot hit the rim and bounced out, halting Wyoming’s winning streak at nine games. Fresno State (18-9, 11-5 MW) used a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good, and Wyoming’s (18-6, 11-4 MW) comeback attempt fell just short in the 66-64 loss.

“Give Fresno State credit,” said head coach Joe Legerski. “They’re a good team. They’re 18-9, and they’re right there also. So, we knew this was going to be a good game. Now we’ve played two games with them that have basically come down to the last minute both times.”

The Cowgirls were led by seniors Marta Gomez and Bailee Cotton, who scored 20 and 19 points, respectively. It is the eighth 20-point game for Gomez this season, while Cotton collected a team-high seven rebounds to go along with two steals and a block. It is the fourth game in a row with multiple steals for the Denver native.

Freshman Quinn Weidemann scored nine points – all from behind the three point line – off the bench, while junior Taylor Rusk had six points, five assists and a pair of steals. Rusk now has seven games this season with at least five assists.

The Cowgirls shot 39.2 percent (20-of-51) from the field, 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from three and 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from the free throw line. Wyoming had 17 assists and 16 turnovers on the night. This is just the sixth game this season the Cowgirls shot below 40.0 percent from the field.

Fresno State was led by Matt Utti’s 26 points, four blocks and six steals. Candice White, the conference’s leading scorer, added 18 points and a team-best five assists.

The Bulldogs shot 56.8 percent (25-of-44) from the field, 9.1 percent (1-of-11) from three and 88.2 percent (15-of-17) from the free throw line. Fresno State had 13 assists compared to 18 turnovers. They also earned 13 steals, a season-high for a Cowgirl opponent.

Fresno State is the first team in a span of nine games to break 60 points against the Cowgirls, and the first in that same span to shoot over 50.0 percent from the field against Wyoming.

Freshman Karla Erjavec started the game’s scoring with a three from the right wing, and the Bulldogs answered with a layup. The Bulldogs used a layup to go up 6-5 after an extended period of both teams struggling to score, but Rusk drilled a three to take back the lead at the 4:29 mark, and her second three of the quarter put the Cowgirls up 15-10 with 55 seconds left in the quarter. The Bulldogs added a layup at the buzzer, making it 15-12 going into the second frame.

Weidemann converted a corner three to start the second quarter, but the Bulldogs used a 6-0 run to tie the game at 18 at the 7:04 mark. Gomez ended Wyoming’s drought with a long jumper. Both teams entered long scoring droughts of over three minutes, but Cotton scored a jumper to put the Cowgirls up 24-20 with 2:21 to go in the half. However, the Bulldogs went on a quick 5-0 run to retake the lead, but Cotton scored from the baseline, and the Cowgirls took a 26-25 lead into halftime.

White scored a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs to start the second half and retake the lead, 27-26, but Cotton scored from the block in response. Gomez scored six straight points for the Cowgirls, but the Bulldogs answered each one, and Wyoming maintained its one-point lead, 34-33. The Cowgirls scored four points from the free throw line, and a Weidemann three made it 43-39 with 2:14 to play in the quarter. Gomez scored the final points of the frame on a baseline jumper that got a nice shooter’s touch, and the Cowgirls took a 48-43 lead into the final period.

Utti scored the first points of the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs. Cotton scored a jumper to stop a mini-run by the Bulldogs, and the Cowgirls held a 52-49 lead with 5:41 to go in the game. Senior Sladjana Rakovic added a pair of free throws out of the media timeout to push the Cowgirl lead up to five. However, and and-one play and a layup by the Bulldogs tied the game at 54 with 3:19 to play.

Weidemann hit a corner three, but the Bulldogs answered with a free throw and a fastbreak layup to tie the game for the fifth time in the game at 57. However, a pair of turnovers led to four Bulldog points, and the Cowgirls called timeout, trailing 61-57 with 53 seconds to play. The Cowgirls fouled Utti, who split her shots, and Cotton scored a pair of free throws after an offensive rebound, making it a 62-61 Bulldog lead with 22 seconds to play. On the next possession, the Cowgirls fouled White, and she made both her shots.

The Bulldogs fouled Cotton again, and she went 1-of-2 at the line. With 17.3 seconds to play, the Cowgirls sent Utti to the line, and she converted both to put the Bulldogs up four. Erjavec scored a quick layup. After the Cowgirls earned a steal, Weidemann’s last second shot couldn’t go, and the Bulldogs earned the 66-64 win over Wyoming.

The Cowgirls return to action on Saturday, March 2, when they will travel to face Air Force. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 2 p.m. (MT).

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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