Jan. 30, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. - In their only game of the week, the Wyoming basketball team (7-11 overall, 3-2 in the MWC) pulled out a 58-53 victory against the Colorado State Rams (10-8 overall, 1-4 in the MWC) on Friday night in Laramie.
The Cowgirls jumped out quickly to a 6-0 lead after two three-point field goals, while it took the Rams over five minutes to score to open up the game. After Wyoming increased their lead to seven points, CSU scored six straight to pull within one, 8-7. It was the Cowgirls turn to respond with a 10-3 run to regain an 18-10 advantage, but a determined Ram team scored the next nine of eleven to tie it all up at 23, which would be the score going into the locker room.
Wyoming's Kristen Lenhardt led the team in scoring with six points followed by Ashley Elliott and Brenda Pickup with five. Freshman Michelle Lieber was the leading rebounder with four. As a team, the Cowgirls were 9-25 (.360) from the field and 5-15 (.333) from beyond the arc.
Guard Annika Walseth led the Rams with seven points followed by Lindsay Thomas with six. As a team, they were 8-19 (.421) from the field.
There wasn't a lot of scoring to begin the second half as the two teams combined for six points to make the score 26 all. After that for the next several minutes each team traded baskets with neither one taking a significant lead. With almost 12 minutes left in the game, the Cowgirls would take a 38-34 lead, their largest of the second half to that point, but the Rams scored the next six of seven to regain a one point lead 40-39. A three-point field goal by Tarah Lapar helped give the Cowgirls a two point lead 42-40 which was quickly answered by CSU to even up the score at 46. After Colorado State took a one point lead, the Cowgirls rallied back with a 6-0 run to take a five point lead, 54-49. Unfortunately the Rams had other ideas as two quick baskets with 40 seconds left in the game brought them to within one point, 54-53. It would take a composed Cowgirl team to knock down four free throws in the final 30 seconds to earn the hard fought 58-53 victory.
"We talked all year about defending teams," said head coach Joe Legerski. "We know offensively that some night shots fall and sometimes they don't, but defensively you better be there every night. Defense is a part of the game that the coaches can have the most impact on, I tried some different things and we really stepped up and executed those things.
"We come to practice every day and talk about improving. When we got started we were trying to find out what we could do as a team, and didn't start the season off like we wanted to. I give the players credit because they hung in there. We have to keep getting better and when March rolls around that's when we want to be playing our best. I think what we have is people believing in what we're trying to teach."
Three Cowgirls finished the game in double figures, including guard Ashley Elliott. She led the team with 18 points, while shooting 6-15 from the field and a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Senior Brenda Pickup closed out the game with 14 points followed by Kristen Lenhardt with 11. Pickup, Lenhardt and Michelle Lieber all led the team with six rebounds. Wyoming was 17-46 (.370) from the field and 16-21 (.762) from the charity stripe.
CSU was led by Lindsay Thomas who finished with 13 points off the bench. Forward Melissa Dennett also finished with 11 points and six rebounds, along with Vanessa Espinoza with ten points. The Rams were 20-50 (.400) from the field.
The Cowgirls will continue play at home next week as they host the Air Force Academy Falcons, Thursday night Feb. 5, at 7:00 p.m. and the New Mexico Lobos, Saturday afternoon Feb. 7, at 2:00 p.m. Both will be played in the Arena Auditorium.