by staff–22 Dec ’16
Behind a solid team effort, the Cowgirl basketball team (8-3 overall) closed out non-conference play by earning an 82-75 victory over the 15th-ranked and previously undefeated Colorado Buffaloes (10-1 overall) on Wednesday night. It’s the first time that the program has beaten a ranked opponent since Jan. 13, 2010 when they defeated the 22nd ranked TCU Horned Frogs in Laramie.
Four Cowgirls finished the night in double-figures led by junior Liv Roberts and sophomore Marta Gomez. Roberts recorded her second double-double of the season with a career-high 21 points and five steals along with 11 rebounds. Gomez came off the bench and finished her night with a season-high 19 points while shooting 8-8 from the free throw line. Sophomore Clara Tapia had 13 points and six assists while junior Natalie Baker chipped in ten points. Wyoming shot a season-high 27-of-54 (.500) from the field and 19-of-23 (.826) from the free throw line including 16-of-16 (1.00) in the fourth quarter. The Cowgirls recorded 34 points in the paint, 30 off the bench and had 23 assists on 27 baskets.
“We needed every basket, every point,” head coach Joe Legerski said. “We shot 50 percent from the field, 83 percent from the free throw line and it was down to the last 30 seconds of the basketball game. It shows you how talented Colorado is. The Wyoming team played with a lot of grit, determination, didn’t back down and that’s what I like about this group. They made a run, the place got loud, cut it to two points and Marta hit a big three. It put us up five, got us to relax and I thought we handled the pressure as well as we could. It’s a difficult press in a number of ways, we just tried to get the ball to open people, stay aggressive and make free throws. We were 16-16 in free throws in the fourth quarter and we needed every one of them.”
Colorado was led by sophomore Kennedy Leonard who finished her night with a game-high 29 points, 22 of them coming in the final ten minutes. Fellow sophomores Makenzie Ellis and Ariana Freeman recorded 16 and 15 points respectively, while Freeman finished with a team-high eight rebounds. The Buffs were 27-of-66 (.409) from the field and out rebounded the Cowgirls 38-31.
The Cowgirls came out of the break and pushed the lead to nine, 42-34, with a 10-3 run. After a timeout, the Buffs chipped away and pulled to within five, 44-39. Started by a Tapia basket, Wyoming scored six of the next eight to regain a double-digit lead, 51-41. Colorado answered with a 12-4 scoring run to close the gap to two, 55-53, with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter. Back to back threes and a layup pulled the Cowgirls ahead by ten, 63-53, and they would maintain that lead over the next several minutes. With the score 67-57 in favor of UW, the Buffs made a run behind Leonard who scored ten of the next 12 points to make it a two point contest, 69-67, with 2:09 to go. Both teams came up empty the next two times down the court until a huge three by Gomez with under a minute to go gave the Cowgirls a five-point advantage, 72-67. A layup by Leonard made it a one possession game, but Wyoming recorded ten straight free throws in the final 34 seconds to earn the 82-75 win.
Colorado jumped out with two early scores until a basket by Baker got the Cowgirls on the board to begin the game. It was back and forth with the scoring with Wyoming taking its first lead of the game, 11-10. The Buffs responded by scoring eight of the next ten including six straight to go ahead 20-13. A three by Roberts would end a scoring drought and start a 12-2 run to give the Cowgirls a 25-22 advantage. Ellis hit a shot to even up the score at 25 in the second quarter. The two teams combined for 13 points the final four minutes with UW taking a 32-31 lead in to the locker room.
Roberts finished the half with 15 points and five rebounds followed by freshman Taylor Rusk with five. The Cowgirls were 13-of-27 (.500) from the field. Colorado was led by Freeman with 11 points and six boards. The Buffs were 12-of-31 (.409) from the field.
Wyoming returns to action next week with the start of the Mountain West season. The team opens up against the Air Force Falcons, on Thursday, Dec. 29, in Colorado Springs, before hosting the UNLV Lady Rebels, on Saturday, Jan. 31.