Cowgirl comeback falls short in road loss at UNLV

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University of Wyoming photo

December 31, 2021 — A shorthanded Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team fought hard at UNLV Friday afternoon in Las Vegas, keeping the league’s highest-scoring offense well below its season average, but it wasn’t enough as the Cowgirls fell 66-60. Wyoming battled back from a 17-point deficit in the second half to get within two points late in the game but couldn’t quite reel in the Lady Rebels. UW had a chance to take the lead with 32 seconds left on an Ola Ustowska 3-pointer but missed the shot long, and UNLV escaped with the win.

Wyoming played the game short four players who were unavailable due to COVID-protocols.

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Turnovers proved to be the downfall for the Cowgirls, now 1-1 in the Mountain West (5-6 overall). UW committed a season-high 21 turnovers leading to 17 UNLV points. UNLV is now 2-0 in conference play and 10-3 on the season.

After trailing 11-0 to start the game, the Cowgirls trailed only 15-11 at the first quarter break but would trail 29-19 at the end of the first half. UNLV would lead 50-39 going into the fourth quarter.

An Ustowska 3-pointer opened the fourth period for the Cowgirls and was followed by an Allyson Fertig layup that made it 50-44. UNLV would respond with back-to-back hoops before a  Paula Salzar 3-pointer with 6:08 to play got the deficit back to 54-47. After the two teams traded “old-fashioned” three-point plays, the Cowgirls trailed 57-50 with 4:40 remaining, leading to the fourth quarter media timeout.

Out of the timeout, UW got a hoop from Fertig to make it 57-52 and followed that up with a pair of Tommi Olson free throws with 2:25 to go before UNLV answered with a bucket. The Cowgirls would cut the deficit to 60-58 with just 1:18 remaining thanks to four consecutive free throws from Fertig and Weidemann. Wyoming had a chance to take the lead with under 30 seconds to go but missed a good look from three, and UNLV got the board and hit the free throws to go up 62-58.

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After a UW timeout, another Cowgirl turnover led to two more freebies for UNLV before Weidemann’s layup cut it to 64-60 with just 15 seconds to go. However, UNLV would hit the two free throws and salt the game away to survive the furious Cowgirl comeback.

“I’m very happy with their effort,” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson. “We had a lot of young kids that got to experience firsthand today what it means when the game is on their shoulders, and they have to perform. I thought we played well, but a lot of credit goes to UNLV; they made some plays when they needed to today.”

UW now looks to rebound in the New Year with its first home conference game against Bosie State Monday evening in Laramie.