Cowgirl Basketball Needs Overtime to Defeat South Dakota, 69-62

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (Dec. 4, 2016) — The Wyoming basketball team (6-2 overall) overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime and come out on top with a 69-62 victory against the South Dakota Coyotes (6-2 overall) on Sunday afternoon.

“I thought it was a tremendous defensive game by both teams,” head coach Joe Legerski said. “Both teams run motion offense, spread the floor and everybody knew what you wanted to do which became a big part of the game. We had to make a change on how we wanted to play because it created some issues with our fives to be out defending on the perimeter, so we went with Marta (Gomez) and Natalie (Baker) as our post players. We also used Marleah Campbell who gave us a big lift on the outside. They ended up getting their big out, so it was a pretty good chess match going on.”

Junior Liv Roberts finished with her first double-double of the season with 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. She was 5-10 from the field and 8-11 from the free throw line. Senior Hailey Ligocki tied her career-high with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Marta Gomez added 12 points off the bench while sophomores Clara Tapia and Bailee Cotton each recorded nine points each. As a team, the Cowgirls shot 20-of-51 (.392) from the field and 23-of-32 (.719) from the free throw line.

“This was a quality win, quality opponent that plays well and competes. It was a good win for us in the fashion that we did it. We had to come back in the last couple of minutes and left some points on the board. Clara (Tapia) made two big free throws to send it in to overtime. Even bigger than that, she knew she would get them since she had missed the layup earlier that could have tied it. She is mentally tough and a competitor. Then you look across the board, Liv (Roberts) had an outstanding game. She played in 44 of the 45 minutes, double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Hailey (Ligocki) hit a big three as the shot clock is winding down. We had to run a few things offensively trying to find a way to score.”

South Dakota had three players in double-figures led by sophomore Allison Arens. She recorded 18 points along with six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Jaycee Bradley added 12 points in 41 minutes of play followed by freshman Ciara Duffy with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Coyotes shot 21-of-62 (.339) from the field and out rebounded Wyoming 43-35.

The teams played even through the first five minutes of the third period as the Cowgirls maintained a two-point lead, 30-28. South Dakota scored seven of the next ten to take a 35-33 advantage headed in to the fourth quarter. Gomez hit two straight threes to put UW four a lead which they hold over the next several minutes. The Coyotes responded with an 11-2 run to go up by five, 50-45, with 2:46 left on the game. Baskets from Roberts and Ligocki closed the gap to one, 50-49, but a layup by Bridget Arens got the score back to three, 52-49. Baker hit one of two free throws and Wyoming had a chance to tie it up with under a minute to go. With the clock winding down, South Dakota turned the ball over, Tapia forced Allison Arens to foul. She would hit both in order to force overtime.

Wyoming scored the first seven points of the extra five minutes, including a three-point shot by Ligocki with the shot clock winding down, to take a 59-52 lead. The Coyotes weren’t able to pull any closer than four as the Cowgirls played strong defense on the way to a 69-62 win.

UW gained an early 4-2 advantage which was answered by South Dakota to give them its first lead 5-4. A three-point play by Cotton put the Cowgirls ahead, 7-5, through the first media timeout. The Coyotes ran off seven straight to close out the quarter to take a 15-13 lead. A three by Roberts ended a two and a half minute scoreless drought for Wyoming to make it a one-point game, 16-15. USD answered with a 6-2 run to go back up by three, 21-18. The Cowgirls rallied with an 8-0 run to go ahead by five, 26-21, and would take a 26-23 advantage into the locker room.  

Roberts led the Cowgirls with ten points and five rebounds followed by Gomez and Cotton with six. Wyoming shot 9-of-21 (.429) from the field and 3-of-8 (.375) from three.

The Cowgirls will return to action on Friday against the Idaho Vandals. The game is set for a 6:30 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.