March 3, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -
For the first time since the 1989-90 season, the Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team (20-8, 11-5 in the MWC) swept the regular season series against the Utah Utes (17-12, 10-6 in the MWC) with a 62-53 victory on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
With the win the Cowgirls finished the regular season in a tie for second place in the Mountain West Conference, their highest finish since the league began. Both New Mexico and TCU also finished the MWC season at 11-5, and with the loss Utah fell to fifth at 10-6.
"This was a remarkable college basketball game," said UW head coach Joe Legerski. "I thought both teams played extremely hard and baskets were very hard to come by in this game. I thought one of the difference was three point shooting. We shot 48% from beyond the arc. The play of Justyna Podziemska was outstanding. She has suffered through a couple of games where she wasn't shooting the ball very well, but tonight came back and had 25 points."
Two Cowgirls finished in double-figures including Justyna Podziemska. She recorded 25 points, just one shy of her career high, and four rebounds in 38 minutes of play. Jodi Bolerjack chipped in 14 followed by Hanna Zavecz with eight. Zavecz, along with Dominique Sisk, finished with a team high eight rebounds. Wyoming shot 20-52 (.385) from the field and 12-25 (.480) from the three-point line.
Utah was led by Morgan Warburton with 13, while Brette Ulsaker added 11 and Joh-Teena Filipe had ten. Kalee Whipple had a game high ten rebounds. The Utes were 18-52 (.346) and 4-13 (.308) from beyond the arc.
It took both teams a little while to get going in the contest as it took until the 16:35 mark when Bolerjack hit a three-point field goal. That would start an 8-3 run to give the Cowgirls a five point lead heading in to the first media time-out. The Utes responded with four straight points to pull within one, 8-7, but an 8-4 run by Wyoming put them back up five, 16-11. After a Marie Warner basket, the Cowgirls scored the next eight of ten points to make it a 23-15 game with seven minutes left in the half. Utah answered right back with eight unanswered to tie it up at 23 all as UW went cold going over six minutes with out scoring. Finally, a Megan McGuffey three-point field goal with under a minute to go in the half helped the Cowgirls regain a 26-23 lead which they would take in to the locker room.
At the half Podziemska led the way for Wyoming in scoring with 11, while Zavecz recorded five points. Sisk finished the half with five rebounds followed by McGuffey and Zavecz each with three. As a team, the Cowgirls were 10-28 (.357) from the field and 6-14 (.429) from the three-point line. Utah was led by Ulsaker who had eight points followed by Heidi Carlsen with six. Whipple finished with five rebounds. The Utes were 7-22 (.318) from the field and 2-4 (.500) from the field.
After a Ulsaker basket brought the Utes to within one, 26-25, the Cowgirls went on an 8-2 run to make the lead 34-27. The two teams played evenly over the next several minutes until two straight baskets by the Utes pulled them to within two, 39-37, with 12 minutes left in the half. Elisabeth Dissen hit a basket for Wyoming to put them back up four, but a Warburton hit a shot to tie it up at 41 all. In the next time down the court, McGuffey was fouled and she hit one of her two shots, unfortunately Whipple was fouled by Zavecz. She would hit both free shots, which gave Utah their first lead of the game 43-42 with 9:48 on the clock. The Cowgirls responded with five straight points to make it a four point game, 47-43. Neither team would score over the next several minutes until a Podziemska basket broke the drought for Wyoming. Utah went over five minutes without scoring until two free throws by Warburton made the score 49-45. A basket by Filipe made it 49-47 and then the Cowgirls scored seven unanswered to extend the lead to 56-49 with 1:05 left on the clock. A free throw and a basket by Utah made it a four point game, 56-52, but two free throws by McGuffey made it a six point game, 58-52, with 32 seconds left. Bolerjack would seal the victory with four free throws to help the Cowgirls on to the 62-53 win.
The Cowgirls will be at the Mountain West Conference Championships beginning on Wednesday, March 7, in Las Vegas, Nev. By virtue of the tiebreaker, UW earns the second seed and will play San Diego State on Wednesday in the opening round of the tournament, beginning at noon Pacific Time.