LARAMIE, Wyo. -
With a fourth straight 20 plus points performance by Marquelle Dent, the Wyoming basketball team (5-3 overall) defeated the Montana Lady Griz (5-4 overall) by seven, 68-61, on Saturday afternoon in Laramie.
"This is what we come to expect when Wyoming and Montana play. It was physical, neither team gives in and several runs throughout," UW head coach Joe Legerski said. "I thought Montana came out and had more energy which was surprising because this is a big game for us. They got off to a good start, made shots and we didn't do what we wanted defensively early. We got going in the second quarter, got some shots to drop and really got back in to the game. They came back and we made a run to get the lead back to ten, Montana cut it to two but we made some plays down the stretch. More importantly, we limited them to what they wanted to do offensively in the final minutes."
Dent closed out the game with 20 points, four assists, two steals in 40 minutes of action. She moved into 20th place all-time in scoring with 1,037 and tied for third in assists with 396. Senior Jordan Kelley added 16 points and seven rebounds while sophomore Liv Roberts added 13 points. Sophomore Bailee Cotton tied a season high with eight rebounds. The Cowgirls shot 18-of-54 (.333) from the field and 28-of-37 (.757) from the charity stripe.
"Liv (Roberts) started right off with the energy we needed and gave us a lift. It's unfortunate when she gets into foul trouble. Hailey (Ligocki) stepped in and gave us some important minutes then Marquelle was simply Marquelle."
Junior Kayleigh Valley finished her night with a game high 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the Lady Griz. Senior McCalle Feller added 13 points and redshirt freshman Sierra Anderson chipped in eight points. Montana was 26-of-63 (.413) from the field and 3-of-12 (.250) from beyond the arc.
Montana tied up the game at 36 from a three-point play from Feller with 7:51 left in the third quarter. The lead changed hands several times until the Lady Griz went up three, 44-41, with three minutes left in the quarter. The Cowgirls responded with an 11-5 run to take a 52-49 lead into the fourth quarter. After the teams traded a couple of baskets, UW scored seven straight capped off by a Gomez three to make it a double-digit lead, 63-53. Montana battled back and closed the gap to a basket, 63-61, with 1:53 remaining in the game. The Cowgirls shut the Lady Griz on final four possessions and hit five free throws to earn the 68-61 win.
An early 9-2 run by the Lady Griz and a 4-4 shooting effort gave UM a seven-point advantage. UW closed the gap to one, 9-8, with six straight points, but Montana extended the lead back to nine, 18-9. Despite a couple of scores from Dent, the Cowgirls went into the second quarter down eight, 23-15. Wyoming responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points to take its first lead of the game, 27-25. A basket by Valley ended a five minute scoreless stretch to even it up at 27 all. Free throws gave the Lady Griz a two-point lead with 3:19 left in the first half but the Cowgirls held them scoreless the remainder of the way and took a 34-29 lead into the locker room.
Wyoming will be off until Saturday as it hosts the Montana State Bobcats. The game is set for a 5 p.m. MT tip-off at the Arena-Auditorium.