LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Behind a season-high 26 point effort from senior Kaitlyn Mileto, the Wyoming women's basketball team (8-10 overall, 3-5 MW) snapped a three-game losing streak with an 86-51 victory over the Utah State Aggies (6-14, 3-5 MW) on Wednesday night in Laramie.
"That is probably as stressful of a victory as we've had. Being up 18 points at half, knowing that we've seen games where leads have been lost and knowing the mental state of this group," head coach Joe Legerski said. "There was a great deal of pressure to come out in the second half and I thought they responded. A stat I'm probably happy to see is 15 steals tonight and that's done in a half court setting. We don't get out and trap in the half court that's just team defense. Then anytime you shoot 68 percent from three you are going to win a lot of basketball games."
Mileto recorded a team-high 26 points just four points shy of her career-high while shooting 6-of-7 from beyond the arc and 8-of-10 from the field. Senior forward Kayla Woodward finished with 18 points and six rebounds. With those points, Woodward reached 1,600 points for her career with 1,609 while Mileto moved into 14th place with 1,265. Junior guard Marquelle Dent followed with 17 points and nine assists while junior guard Jordan Kelley recorded a team-high seven rebounds and 11 points. Wyoming shot 29-of-55 (.527) from the field, which is second best this season, and a season-high 13-of-19 (.684) from beyond the arc. The two teams each recorded 32 rebounds, while the Cowgirls had 24 points off turnovers and 22 points in the paint.
"We keep talking about that not everyone needs to be great, I just need people to be good. When you look at our numbers with four people in double-figures, steals and rebounding across the board, I would say everyone was good tonight. They did what they are capable of doing and we get the win."
Freshman Funda Nakkasoglu finished her night with a team-high 22 points and four assists. Forward Tijana Djukic and Elise Nelson each finished with six points and a team-high six rebounds. The Aggies were 22-of-59 (.373) from the field and 4-of-16 (.250) from beyond the arc.
Out of the halftime break, Wyoming built the lead to 24, 55-31, with a 9-3 run. A field goal by Nakkasoglu stopped the Aggie scoring drought and they would close the gap to 21, 61-40. Started by a Mileto three, the Cowgirls scored the next eight of ten to increase the lead back to 27, 69-42, with 10:58 left in the game. Both teams went a couple of minutes without scoring until a basket by Nelson for the Aggies and a three by Mileto. An 11-6 run followed by Wyoming to get the advantage to 32, 80-48. The Cowgirls turned it on defensively as they held Utah State to only two points in the final 5:40 of the contest and would move onto the 86-51 victory.
Two early three-point field goals by Kelley and Woodward gave the Cowgirls an early 6-0 lead. Strikas got the Aggies on the board three minutes into the game and Utah State scored the next nine of 11 to take its first lead, 9-8. The teams played even over the next couple of minutes as it was tied up at 13 through the first media timeout. Out of the break, Wyoming scored four straight to pull ahead 17-13. Another Utah State basket made it a two-point contest, 17-15. Started by a Mileto basket, the Cowgirls went on a 14-3 run to increase the lead to double-figures, 31-18. A basket by Vaaulu would end three-minute scoring drought by the Aggies. Another three by Woodward made it a 14-point game, 34-20. The Aggies chipped away at the deficit and closed the gap to ten, 38-28. Wyoming ended the half on an 8-0 run to take a 46-28 lead into the locker room.
Woodward finished with a team-high 16 points and five rebounds while shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc. Dent added 10 points followed by Mileto with nine. Wyoming shot 14-of-27 (.519) from the field and 6-of-11 (.545) from beyond the arc. Utah State was led by Nakkasoglu with 12 points while Djukic finished with six points. The Aggies shot 13-of-31 (.419) from the field and 1-of-7 (.143) from three.
Wyoming will return to the court on Saturday against the Nevada Wolf Pack. The game is set for a 5 p.m. MT tip-off in Reno.