RENO, Nev. (RELEASE)- After leading by as many as 14, the Cowgirls found themselves in a battle late against Nevada, but Wyoming was clutch from the free throw line in an 84-79 win on the road. The Cowgirls (15-11, 11-6 MW) have now won four in a row, this time knocking off a Nevada Wolf Pack (14-14, 7-10 MW) that had won five of their last seven games. With the win, head coach Gerald Mattinson tied the program record for wins by a first-year head coach with 15.
“What a breakout game for Taylor Rusk,” Mattinson said. “I’m so proud of her. On their senior night here, they gave our two seniors flowers, and maybe she thought it was her senior night. We’ll make sure we get her flowers on Thursday because if it takes flowers to get her to score 26, I’d have had flowers at every game this year. It was a great effort, not only by her. Tereza got back with 18 points, and Quinn’s put together to back-to-back complete games. She’s guarding their best players, and a lot of the times, because of the press, she brought the ball up, and she was able to score 19 for us and hit big free throws down the stretch. I’m pleased as can be with this big win on the road.”
The Cowgirls were led by senior Taylor Rusk’s career night, as the Highlands Ranch, Colo., native scored a career-high 26 points by making a career-high 11 field goals. The senior went a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc, as well. Rusk added four rebounds and three assists for the Cowgirls. It is the second 20-point game in her career, as her previous high was 21 points. Rusk has now reached double-digit scoring 11 times this year and 49 times in her career.
Sophomore Quinn Weidemann scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including making four free throws in the final minute of the game to keep the Cowgirls in front. It is the 13th time this year and the fourth time in a row. Weidemann grabbed three assists and had three rebounds with a steal.
Sophomore Tereza Vitulova scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including making her only attempt from deep. Vitulova also tied the team high with six rebounds during the game. Sophomore Alba Sanchez Ramos scored five points, including an important three late in the game. She also had six rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore Tommi Olson scored two points and had six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Sophomore Karla Erjavec returned to the lineup after battling an illness and scored six points with an assist.
Wyoming shot 51.6 percent (32-62) from the field, a season-high 55.0 percent (11-20) from three and 90.0 percent (9-10) from the free throw line. The Cowgirls had 14 assists and 12 turnovers in the win.
Weidemann started the game with a layup, and the teams traded points until Rusk tied it at six with a layup of her own. After that, the Cowgirls made three straight three-pointers and a layup to take a 17-6 lead. The Wolf Pack ended the run with a jumper, and the teams each scored five more points down the stretch to give UW a 22-13 lead after one quarter.
Rusk opened the second quarter with a layup along the baseline, but the Wolf Pack answered with a pull-up jumper. The squads traded scores until a three by Erjavec gave UW a 29-19 lead with 6:33 to play until halftime. However, the Wolf Pack went on a 7-0 run to cut it to 29-26. Vaifanua and Weidemann made layups, but a Nevada layup cut UW’s lead to 36-33. The Cowgirls then responded with a 6-0 run of their own to take a 42-33 lead into the locker room.
Vitulova scored a layup to start the third quarter, and Rusk answered with a driving layup after a Cowgirl defensive stop. The Wolf Pack scored a three to get on the board in the second half, and Vitulova answered with a hook shot. After a Weidemann three, the Wolf Pack scored five unanswered to make it 51-43 for the Cowgirls with 4:20 to go in the third. The Cowgirls then scored eight of the next 10 points to go up 59-45 at the 3:09 mark. However, the Wolf Pack then scored seven of the next eight, and the Cowgirls led 60-52 after three quarters.
The Wolf Pack then scored a layup to start the fourth quarter, and after another Wolf Pack basket, Erjavec scored an old-fashioned three-point play to push UW’s lead back to 63-56. The squads traded scores, but one of Nevada’s was a three, and the Cowgirls held a 67-61 lead with 6:37 to play.
The teams traded threes, and a layup by Rusk made it 72-64 with 4:14 to go. A Sanchez Ramos triple forced a Nevada timeout with 3:35 to play and the Cowgirls up 11, 75-64. The Wolf Pack added a pair of jumpers, but Weidemann scored a three to put the Cowgirls up by 10 again with 2:06 to play. Nevada scored eight of the next 10 to cut the Cowgirl lead to four with just 14.6 seconds to play. The Wolf Pack fouled Weidemann, who made both her shots, and Nevada called timeout with 9.6 seconds to play as UW held an 82-76 lead. Nevada scored a three and then fouled Weidemann with 3.8 seconds to play, she made both, and the Cowgirls pulled out the 84-79 win.
The Wolf Pack was led by Essence Booker’s 17 points and four rebounds. Imani lacy scored 16 points and had a rebound, while Amaya West and Da’Ja Hamilton each scored 13.
Nevada shot 48.5 percent (32-66) from the field, 53.3 percent (8-15) from three and 87.5 percent (7-8) from the free throw line. Nevada had 13 assists and four turnovers during the game.
The Cowgirls will play their last regular season game of the year on Thursday, Feb. 27, when they host Fresno State for “Senior Night.” The game is scheduled to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.