Wyoming Cowgirls host Pepperdine Thursday in WNIT Round of 16

(UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Cowgirls (24-8, 13-5 MW) will continue their run in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) on Thursday, when they host Pepperdine (22-11, 12-6 WCC) at 6:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowgirls are playing in the WNIT for the third-consecutive season, joining the 2006-08 squads as the only instances of three seasons in a row of postseason action.

The Cowgirls are 24-8 this season and 13-5 in the Mountain West coming off a 78-71 win over South Alabama in the second round of the WNIT. The Cowgirls are led offensively by senior forward Marta Gomez, a MW all-conference performer who averages 16.2 points per game while adding 4.8 rebounds per contest. Senior forward Bailee Cotton averages nearly a double-double with 11.5 points per contest and pulling down a team best 8.8 rebounds per game. Cotton has also taken a team-leading 20 charges this season. Junior Taylor Rusk is scoring 9.3 points per contest while adding 104 assists and only 35 turnovers, the 13th-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country. Freshman guard Karla Erjavec leads the team in the assist department with 120 on the year, and she was named to the league’s all-freshman team. Defensively, Rusk has recorded 32 steals this season, while Cotton has 31 blocks and 45 steals and was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.

Offensively, the Cowgirls are shooting at a 45.6 percent (800-of-1,755) clip from the field while shooting 39.2 percent (222-of-567) from three and 78.2 percent (359-of-459) from the free throw line to average 68.2 points per game. The Cowgirls average 15.8 assists and just 11.5 turnovers per game. Opponents are shooting 41.2 percent (714-of-1,734) from the field, 32.0 percent (149-of-466) from three and 68.9 percent (257-of-373) from the free throw line to average 57.3 points per game. Cowgirl foes average 9.9 assists and 13.7 turnovers per game.

Head coach Joe Legerski is in his 16th year at the helm of the Cowgirls, and he has compiled a 313-185 record as Wyoming’s head coach. He is the winningest coach in program history.

The Waves are 22-11 overall and 12-6 in the West Coast Conference. They made it to the WNIT Third Round behind wins over California Baptist (91-79) and Saint Mary’s (65-61). The Waves are led by WCC Player of the Year Yasmine Robinson-Bacote. She averages 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to lead Pepperdine. Paige Fecske and Barbara Sitanggan each score 11.4 points per game to round out Pepperdine’s double-digit scorers. Sitanggan leads the Waves in assists and steals with 5.3 and 1.7, respectively, per game. Megan House patrols the paint for Pepperdine, recording a team-best 1.2 blocks per contest.

Pepperdine shoots 40.2 percent (876-of-2,179) from the field, 35.6 percent (180-of-506) from three and 74.1 percent (454-of-613) from the free throw line to average 72.3 points per game. The Waves average 13.6 assists and 11.8 turnovers per game as a team. Opponents shoot 42.3 percent (821-of-1,939) from the field, 30.6 percent (162-of-529) from three and 73.1 percent (465-of-636) from the free throw line to average 68.8 points per contest. Waves foes average 13.7 assists and 13.8 turnovers per game.

Head coach Delisha Milton-Jones is 32-31 in two seasons as Pepperdine’s head coach following an illustrious professional career that featured a pair of Olympic gold medals and two WNBA championships.

The Cowgirls own a 6-3 all-time lead in the series between these two teams, and has won two games in a row over the Waves. In Laramie, Wyoming is a perfect 3-0, with all three wins coming by at least 13 points. Interestingly, Wyoming head coach Joe Legerski earned two milestone wins against Pepperdine. In 2012, he became Wyoming’s all-time winningest coach with a victory over the Waves, and in the next season, he earned his 200th career win with an 84-64 win against Pepperdine.

The game will be broadcast live on the Mountain West Network, and can be heard across the 25 stations of the Cowgirl Radio Network with Reece Monaco on play-by-play and Wyoming Hall of Famer Margie McDonald with color commentary.

Tickets are priced at $15/adult & $11/youth and fans can save $2 per-ticket by ordering online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets($13/adult & $9/youth). Limited courtside seats are also available for $30. Tickets can be purchased ONLINE, over the phone at 307-766-7220 or in person at the Wyoming Athletic Ticket Office.

Student tickets will also be available for $5/ticket. Students would need to show their WYO Wild Bunch App or a valid student ID to purchase. Students can purchase these tickets in person at the Wyoming Athletic Ticket Office.

Fans who have a Cowgirl Basketball season parking pass may use that pass for parking at the game and $5 event parking will be available at the Stadium Lot of War Memorial.

With a win, the Cowgirls will face the winner of the game between Arizona and Idaho.

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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