LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Jan. 25, 2017) — A tough shooting night and turnovers plagued the Wyoming women’s basketball (15-4 overall, 7-1 MW) as it suffered its first conference loss, 51-46, against the UNLV Lady Rebels (14-6, 5-3 MW) on Wednesday night. It snapped the Cowgirls nine-game winning streak and was the first loss for the Cowgirls since Dec. 9, 2016 when they dropped a 74-71 contest against Idaho. The 7-1 conference record ties the best start through eight games since the 1989-90 team.
Junior Liv Roberts led the way with a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds in her 37 minutes of action. Junior Natalie Baker chipped in ten points and five boards followed by freshman Taylor Rusk with eight points and a career-high seven rebounds. The Cowgirls were shot a season low 32.1 percent (17-53) from the field, plus 30.0 percent (6-20) from three and 60.0 percent (6-10) from the charity stripe. The 46 point outing was the lowest of the season and the 14 turnovers was second most in a league game.
“UNLV really turned the pressure up on us tonight and we didn’t adjust well to it,” head coach Joe Legerski said. “One of the things we talked about in practice is that you can’t pass the ball two or three times within six feet of the basket. You have to take it to the rim, make a decision and I thought the pressure hurried us throughout the game which is something we’ve not done all year long. Defensively, I thought we played well especially to hold someone to 51 points but it was offensively you have to give UNLV credit. They came out, got after us and made us make decisions we weren’t comfortable with. We also need everyone to step up. We’re usually a 70-80 percent free throw shooting team and we were at the 60 percent, we’ve been in the mid 40’s from the field. Also, our decision of when to shoot and not to shoot really started to affect us.”
UNLV was led by junior Dylan Gonzalez with 20 points and three steals. She was followed by her sister, Dakota Gonzalez with 16 points while sophomore Katie Powell finished with a game-high 14 boards. The Lady Rebels were 33.3 percent (20-60) from the field and 75.0 percent (9-12) from the free throw line. UNLV also out rebounded the Cowgirls 41-38.
The Cowgirls stormed out and scored the first ten points of the third quarter which was part of a 17-2 run to push them up by seven, 35-28. A basket by sophomore Paris Strawther out of a media timeout would end the scoreless stretch for the Lady Rebels, but a couple of free throws kept the Cowgirls up four, 37-33, after three. UNLV responded with a 14-3 run of its own to retake the lead, 47-40, with 1:15 left in the game. Wyoming went another seven minute stretch without a field goal until a three by Rusk closed the gap to four, 47-43. In the end, the Cowgirls didn’t have enough time on the clock with the Lady Rebels taking the 51-46 victory.
It was tough going in the early part of the game for the Cowgirls. Dylan Gonzalez scored the Lady Rebels first eight points and Wyoming with four made it 8-4. UW shot 1-10 (.100) from the field and 0-3 (.000) through the first media timeout. The teams combined for eight points to make it 12-8 after one. A three by Roberts pulled the Cowgirls to within one, which was quickly answered by a 6-2 run to extend the lead back to five, 18-13. Four straight by Wyoming cut the deficit to one, 18-17. Unfortunately, UNLV rattled of eight of the final nine points to take a 26-18 halftime lead, while the Cowgirls didn’t score a basket in the final 4:08.
Baker, senior Hailey Ligocki and Rusk each recorded four points while Roberts brought down five rebounds. Wyoming shot 22.6 percent (7-31) from the field and just 16.7 percent (1-6) from three. UNLV was led by Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez who accounted for 24 of the teams 26 points in the half. The Lady Rebels shot 40.0 percent (12-30) from the field and held a slight rebounding edge, 22-21.
The Cowgirls will wrap up the weekend on Saturday against the Boise State Broncos. The tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. MT at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.