Cowgirls basketball team is ready to build off momentum from last season

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 12:50 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The women’s team took UCLA to the brink in a thrilling triple overtime contest the last time they hit the floor, and they are chomping at the bit to improve on an impressive performance in their previous campaign. While the season is still a few weeks away, their coach said the team has already harnessed that momentum with one goal in mind: make history.

“Our kids are still hungry. They’re excited to get going again especially after that triple overtime loss where they’re going ‘man, we could’ve kept playing a little bit longer and who knows what happens’. So they’re hungry for more. Tommi [Olson] and Quinn [Weidemann], they’re going into their last go round, [and] we want to do something we’ve never done before. So you like having those voices like that in the locker room and every day in practice knowing that that’s what they’re working for,” coach Heather Ezell said.

Fifth year players Olson and Weidemann are two of three starters returning for the Cowgirls along with Mountain West Freshman of the Year and Glendo, Wyoming native Allyson Fertig. Seven other letterwinners from last season are back as well; a few key players from that group are primed for expanded roles in Grace Ellis, Paula Salazar, and Ola Ustowska. The depth doesn’t end there, because UW hit the transfer portal to bring in Malene Pedersen (Kansas State) and Bailey Wilborn (Maine) for a strengthened rotation.

Weidemann said one of the keys for this season is to hit the ground running.

“[We need to start] this season how we finished last season. I feel like we always at the beginning of the season start off a little slow, and towards the end of the season we pick it up. So taking that momentum and putting it into this season, at the start of the season and playing at that level is the best for us,” Weidemann said.

The newcomer Pedersen gave credit to her veteran backcourt mates for making their teammates around them better.

“I think we have a good team this year, and I think definitely because we have Quinn and Tommi who have a lot of experience. They will help all the [rest] of us to keep pushing and support each other,” Pedersen said.

The confidence in their ability has the team believing that this season’s performance will eclipse last year’s.

“The ultimate goal would definitely to be to get back to the NCAA tournament, but if we don’t get there having another really good run in the WNIT and going further [is another goal]. Because we were right there with UCLA and it was really unfortunate that we didn’t get over the line, but I think that is what we’re pushing for this season,” Ellis said.

The team starts that mission at North Dakota on Nov. 11.