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Big Second Half and Defense Leads UW to 54-36 Win

Davidsdottir and Savic both post career-highs
This year's Cowboys are the first UW Men's Basketball to win at least four of its first five...
This year's Cowboys are the first UW Men's Basketball to win at least four of its first five games since the 2017-2018 season.(Tyler Davis, UW AthMarketing)
Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 12:16 AM CST
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LARAMIE, Wyo. (UW RELEASE) - The Wyoming Cowgirls were able to overcome a sluggish first half shooting the ball Thursday night in Laramie, thanks to a big second half on their way to a 54-36 win over San Diego State in game one of the series with the Aztecs.

Wyoming (7-7, 5-6 MW) was powered by its two posts, Dagny Davidsdottir and Marta Savic in the win, as the duo combined for 31 points and 10 rebounds. Both recorded career-highs on the night as Davidsdottir scored 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting while also grabbing eight boards and recording a pair of steals. Savic meanwhile, went a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, scoring 12 points off the bench in replacement of Davidsdottir. As a team, the Cowgirls outscored SDSU 44-8 in the paint.

“For one, I’m pleased that we won, I’m happy for the kids,” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson postgame.

“I told them after last week, it breaks my heart we lost both of those games, they played so hard at Nevada and played well enough defensively to let those slip away, that’s heartbreaking for me on behalf of them. But for us to come out and put together another great defensive effort today and then to be able to finally open it up a little bit and make some baskets, I thought our fives played really well, it feels really good.”

The Cowgirls held San Diego State (5-9, 3-5 MW) to just 30.2 percent (13-43) shooting for the game and allowed just 13 points in the first half. Wyoming shot nearly 37 percent (24-65) from the floor in the win, but shot 55 percent in the second half, including going 10-of-15 from the field in the third quarter and out-scoring the Aztecs, 22-11 to open the second half.

Both teams struggled offensively in the opening 20 minutes as the Cowgirls held just a 19-13 lead going into halftime. UW shot 8-of-36 in the first half while the Aztecs went 5-of-21. Wyoming’s struggles from 3-point range lasted the whole 40 minutes as the Cowgirls shot just 1-of-21 from beyond-the-arc on the night.

Wyoming’s lone made 3-pointer was timely however, and helped spark a big run in the third quarter for the Cowgirls. Leading 24-17 with 6:29 to play in the third, Tommi Olson drained a 3-pointer to put the Cowgirls up by 10 and began a 13-3 run that lasted the next 4:14 of the quarter. A Savic layup capped the run and forced an SDSU timeout with 2:15 left in the quarter and Wyoming up 37-20. The Cowgirls led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and carried a 41-24 lead into the fourth quarter. Davidsdottir was able to beat the buzzer on a layup set up nicely from Ola Ustowska to end the quarter for the Cowgirls.

In the fourth quarter, the Cowgirls led comfortably the whole way, leading by 16 to 18 points most of the final 10 minutes. SDSU got to as close as 46-32 with 3:45 to play, but from there, UW lengthened its lead to 20 points, 54-34, thanks to an 8-2 stretch with a pair of buckets each in the paint from both Savic and Ustowksa.

“It was a good night, it was good that we won, it was good that we played as well defensively as we did. We still have a ways to go offensively, but we played well enough tonight. It was also great playing in front of fans again. It was really nice to have them there and to have their encouragement, especially when they really got into it,” said Mattinson.

Davidsdottir and Savic were the only two Cowgirls in double figures but the rest of the scoring was very balanced. Ustowska added six points and a pair of assists while Olson and Alba Sanchez Ramos each added five points apiece. Olson tied for the team lead with eight rebounds while also dishing out a game-high six assists while Sanchez Ramos pulled down seven boards and tallied a block and a steal in the win.

The Cowgirls also got after it on the glass on the night, out-rebounding the Aztecs 44-34 and had a 15-5 advantage on offensive rebounds, leading to a 13-2 margin on second-chance points. SDSU had the slight edge on points off turnovers, 11-9, despite committing 11 more turnovers (19-8) than UW.

The two teams will return to action Saturday afternoon to close the series as UW looks for the sweep. The action tips off at 1 p.m.

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