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Bench Provides Cowgirls with a Spark in 61-47 Win

UW scores 34 off the bench – Salazar and Mellema with career-highs
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 1:03 AM CST
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LARAMIE, Wyo. (UW RELEASE) - The Wyoming Cowgirls got a huge spark from their bench Wednesday night in Laramie as 34 points from Cowgirl reserves led to a 61-47 victory over Boise State at the Arena-Auditorium. The UW defense got back into a groove in the win as well, holding the Broncos to just 28.3-percent shooting on the night.

The Cowgirls were paced in the early going of the game with four points each from Allyson Fertig and Alba Sanchez Ramos as part of a 9-0 run from UW, leading to a Boise State timeout with 4:35 to go in the first quarter and the Cowgirls leading 14-6. Out of the timeout, the Broncos were able to shrink the lead down to 16-13 after one-quarter of play thanks to a last-second running layup.

In the second, both teams started to find an offensive rhythm as the two traded buckets to begin the frame. Paula Salazar had a pair of pretty hoops back-to-back to extend the Cowgirl lead to 25-18 with 6:59 left in the half. Salazar had the best game of her young career Wednesday night, finishing with a career-high 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor and grabbing five rebounds.

Both teams went in an offensive drought the rest of the half as both the Cowgirls and Boise went over a four-minute stretch without scoring, a golden opportunity for UW to extend the lead but it couldn’t capitalize. Each team would end its scoreless drought with 3-pointers and then exchanged buckets to close the half as the Cowgirls carried a 31-27 lead into the locker room.

Wyoming opened the second half with four consecutive points to push its lead to 35-27, its biggest of the lead up to that point. However, the Cowgirls would extend it out even further, thanks to a little 6-2 run to push their lead up to double digits, 41-31 with 3:45 remaining in the frame. After the third quarter media, a Sanchez Ramos putback made it a 12-point advantage for UW before Boise State responded with a 3-pointer.

Boise State would once again respond and got five-straight points to cut the deficit to 43-36. This time, the Cowgirls would respond as Emily Mellema’s three-point play pushed the edge back up to 10 points for the Cowgirls. Mellema and Salazar both hit layups in the final minute of the quarter as the Cowgirls took a 50-38 lead into the fourth.

Fertig began the fourth quarter with a hoop and drawn foul to push the lead to 15 points with under nine minutes to play. But the Broncos would respond to cut the deficit to 10 points thanks to a quick 5-0 run. After a Grace Ellis layup, Boise State would once again cut the Cowgirl lead down to just single digits, 55-46 at the media timeout with 4:40 to play. Out of the break, Mellema found Sanchez Ramos for a wide-open top-of-the-key 3-pointer and the Cowgirls were back up by double figures.

Down the stretch, the Cowgirls continued to play smothering defense as the Broncos went on a 1-for-13 shooting slump in the final five-plus minutes of the contest. Boise State would not get to within single digits the rest of the way as UW closed things out for the victory. The Broncos were held to just 20 second-half points.

In addition to Salazar’s career night, Mellema also had a strong night, scoring a career-best 10 points to go along with four boards, three assists, and a steal. Sanchez Ramos meanwhile, also scored 15 on the night and notched her second double-double of the season, grabbing a team-best 10 rebounds. Sanchez Ramos also got it done on the defensive end, notching a block and a steal in the win.

“I think particularly in the first half Paula Salazar stepped up,” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson.

“To be honest, if Paula didn’t answer the bell in the first half, it might have been a lot different, but she did. It was good to see Alba get back to a double-double. We had three double-digit scorers and two of them were off the bench, so that was huge.”

Ellis provided nine points and three rebounds off the bench as she continued her strong play in the last week in both games against Boise State. Fertig had seven points and three boards in limited action (seven minutes) due to foul trouble.

Wyoming, who outscored Boise State 34-16 on bench points, also had a 38-20 advantage in points in the paint, outscored the Broncos 9-4 on points off turnovers, and had a slight 4-1 edge in fastbreak points.

The Cowgirls shot 38 percent (24-for-63) from the floor and went just 9-for-14 at the free-throw line but Boise State hit just 9-of-18 at the charity stripe. Both teams hit four 3-pointers in the game.

“I liked what we did tonight. We moved the ball well on the perimeter and we also got the ball inside tonight to a couple of people,” continued Mattinson.

Up next, Wyoming looks to make it a 2-0 week at home as it hosts Nevada in a 2 p.m., contest Saturday, January 29.

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