Wyoming Cowgirls send seniors out in style, 85-56 over San Jose State

(UW Athletics photo)

(UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team celebrated “Senior Night” before taking on San José State (5-23, 4-13 MW). After recognizing seniors Bailee Cotton, Marta Gomez, Tijana Raca, Sladjana Rakovic, Clara Tapia and Rachelle Tucker, the Cowgirls picked up an 85-56 (20-6, 13-4) win to reach 20 victories on the season.

This is the third-consecutive season the Cowgirls have notched at least 20 wins, and it’s just the second stretch of three-consecutive 20-win seasons in program history. The other groups that accomplished that feat were the 2006-08 squads. It was also a program milestone victory, the 700th Cowgirl basketball win all time. Wyoming is just the third current Mountain West school to reach 700 wins, joining UNLV (793) and Fresno State (752).

Each senior saw the floor against the Spartans, with Gomez leading the way in the scoring department with 21 points. She also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a season-high four assists. It’s the ninth 20-point game this season for Gomez. Cotton had her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with a career-high five steals.

Tapia scored two points and dished out a season-high-tying six assists while collecting a steal. Rakovic added two points, six rebounds and an assist off the bench, while Raca earned an assist on the night. Tucker scored four points and had three rebounds, two steals and a block.

Even though it was senior night, a pair of freshman played tremendous games for the Cowgirls. Karla Erjavec had the first double-double of her career with 10 points and 10 assists, while Quinn Weidemann scored 17 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter on a trio of three-point shots.

Junior Elisa Pilli scored a career-high eight points off the bench on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting, while junior Taylor Rusk added nine points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.

As a team, Wyoming shot 50.8 percent (33-of-65) from the field, 44.0 percent (11-of-25) from three and 88.9 percent (8-of-9) from the free throw line. It’s the eighth game this season the Cowgirls have shot over 50 percent from the field. Wyoming tied its season high with 27 assists – the seventh time the team has had at least 20 assists in a game – and only nine turnovers.

The Spartans were led by Raziya Potter, who scored 14 points and had six rebounds. Danae Marquez chipped in nine points and a team-high three assists.

San José State shot 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from the field, 29-4 percent (5-of-17) from three and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from the free throw line. The Spartans had five assist and 14 turnovers on the night.

Cotton opened the game’s scoring with a layup off an assist from Gomez to spark a 6-0 run to start the game. After the Spartans scored five straight, Erjavec drained a three to put the Cowgirls up 12-7 at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter. With the Spartans in an extended scoring drought, the Cowgirls pushed the lead to 17-7 with 5:12 to play in the quarter. The Spartans hit a three, but the Cowgirls used a 6-0 run to go up 23-10 at the 1:29 mark. The teams traded points to end the quarter, and Wyoming held the 25-15 lead.

Tucker started the scoring in the second frame, converting a strong post move into a layup, but the Spartans answered right back with a layup of their own. Weidemann ended a long Cowgirl scoring drought with a baseline drive, but the Spartans cut the lead to 29-22 with 5:16 to play in the half. With the Cowgirls on a mini 6-2 run, SJSU called timeout with 2:35 left in the half with the Cowgirls leading, 35-25. Out of the timeout, the Spartans scored five of the next seven, the Wyoming held a 37-30 lead at the halftime break.

The Spartans scored the first points of the second half with a pull-up jump shot, but Erjavec answered with a free-throw-line jumper of her own. Cotton and Tapia both took charges on consecutive possessions to spark a personal 8-0 run by Gomez. In fact, she had 15 of the Cowgirls first 17 points in the third quarter, and Wyoming held a 54-36 lead at the 4:09 mark. Tapia scored a nifty layup off a baseline drive to put the Cowgirls up 61-40 at the 1:13 mark. The Spartans scored at the buzzer, but Wyoming took a 62-44 lead into the fourth quarter.

Weidemann converted a corner three to start the final period, but the Spartans scored the next four. Weidemann scored another three to ignite an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of Cotton free throws. Rakovic scored in the lane to put the Cowgirls up 75-53 with 4:15 to play.

At the 2:28 mark with the Cowgirls leading, 77-56, Legerski subbed out five seniors: Cotton, Gomez, Raca, Tapia and Tucker to a standing ovation by the 2,832 fans in the Arena-Auditorium.

The Cowgirl reserves finished the game, and Wyoming took the 85-56 victory on “Senior Night.”

The Cowgirls return to action on Thursday, March 7, when the travel to Albuquerque, N.M., to face New Mexico in their regular season finale. Tipoff from “The Pit” is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT).

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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