LARAMIE, Wyo. (RELEASE)- Wyoming used a 36-1 run from the end of the first quarter to the 5:59 mark of the third quarter to pull away in their 70-31 season-opening win over Colorado Christian on Wednesday night. Head coach Gerald Mattinson earned the first victory of his career with the win.
“We spend a lot of time on defense,” Mattinson said. “You can’t always control what you do offensively. For some reason, I don’t know why, sometimes the ball just doesn’t go for you on a given night. You can be the greatest shooter in the world, and it doesn’t go. But what you can control as a player, is you can control the intensity level you come with every day, and you can control how hard you’re going to play defensively. Those are things that don’t change. It takes determination and will to do it.”
Mattinson joins Bonnie Hulstrand, Chad Lavin and Margie McDonald as Cowgirl head coaches to win in their debut.
Wyoming (1-0) held the Cougars to just nine first-half points, including a single point in the second quarter, to pull away for the win in front of 2,246 fans in the Arena-Auditorium.
Sophomore Karla Erjavec was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points in 28 minutes. Erjavec also added four rebounds and three assists while shooting 60 percent (6-10) from the field. She was joined in double-figure scoring by freshman McKinley Bradshaw, who scored 13 points off the bench in her Wyoming debut. The Lyman, Wyo., native also had five rebounds, an assist and a pair of steals.
The Cowgirls had balanced scoring throughout the game, as eight different players scored at least five points, including sophomore Quinn Weidemann with eight and sophomore Tereza Vitulova with six. Vitulova tied for the team-high with six rebounds with freshman Paige Powell, who also added six points and a block off the bench.
Senior Taylor Rusk, sophomore Alba Sanchez Ramos and redshirt junior Selale Kepenc each scored five points on the night. Sophomore Tommi Olson was the lone Cowgirl to not score, however the Worland, Wyo., native had an extremely productive night with a game-high five assists and a game-high four steals.
The Cougars opened the game’s scoring with a shot just outside the paint, and CCU took advantage of three early Wyoming turnovers to take a 6-0 lead into the media timeout with 4:59 to play in the first quarter. Weidemann ended the long Cowgirl drought with a pair of free throws at the 3:36 mark.
Bradshaw scored the first points of her Cowgirl career at the line a minute later, and after Olson picked off a pass, Johnson opened her Cowgirl account with a free throw. Bradshaw made UW’s first field goal of the quarter, and it gave them a 9-8 lead that they took into the quarter break.
Erjavec scored a layup off a pass from Rusk to start the second quarter and kickstart an 8-0 run that was capped by a Sanchez Ramos three. After a Cougar free throw, the Cowgirls scored eight more, the last four of which were scored by Erjavec. Wyoming outscored CC, 16-1, in the second quarter and took a 25-9 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Erjavec buried a three off a pass from Weidemann to start the second half, and on the next possession, Erjavec returned the favor to Weidemann for a three at the top of the key, forcing a Colorado Christian timeout. The Cougars ended an 18-plus minute field goal drought with a layup, but a Sanchez Ramos layup gave Wyoming a 40-11 lead with 5:38 to play in the quarter. The teams traded baskets until a Bradshaw three and a layup by freshman Jaeden Vaifanua put the Cowgirls up 50-17 to end the third quarter. The layup was Vaifanua’s first score in a Wyoming jersey.
The Cowgirls opened the fourth frame with four quick points as Erjavec converted a floater and Olson stole the inbounds pass and found Bradshaw for a back-door layup. Powell scored her first points as a Cowgirl on a layup to give UW a 56-19 lead, and she converted another on the next possession. Juniro Emily Buchanan scored a driving layup at the 5:20 mark, to make it all five newcomers with a point in their Wyoming debut. The Cougars and the Cowgirls traded points down the stretch, and Wyoming took the 70-31 victory.
Wyoming shot 44.8 percent (26-58) from the field, 40.0 percent (8-20) from three and 66.7 percent (10-15) from the free throw line. The Cowgirls collected 43 rebounds, including 13 offensive, and had 14 assists, five blocks and 12 steals.
The Cougars were led by Lourdes Gonzalez and Sam Nunez with eight points, while Gonzalez had a game-high eight rebounds.
Colorado Christian shot 26.1 percent (12-46) from the field, 25.0 percent (3-12) from three-point range and 40.0 percent (4-10) from the free throw line. The Cougars had 28 rebounds, three assists and seven steals.
Wyoming is back in action on Sunday, Nov. 10, when they host St. Mary’s at 1 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.