Dec. 19, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyoming - In their final game before the Christmas break, the Wyoming basketball team (1-6 overall) fell to the Portland Pilots (4-4 overall) by the final of 59-43 on Friday night in Laramie.
Portland scored the first two baskets of the half to go up 4-0, while it took the Cowgirls almost three minutes before Ashley Elliott free throws got UW on the board 4-3. Neither team scored for several minutes until an 11-0 run from the Pilots gave them a 15-3 advantage. Wyoming struggled offensively going almost five minutes without a score until a three-point field goal from Angiah Harris broke the streak. After a quick score from Portland, UW responded with a 7-0 run to pull them within five, 18-13. The Pilots maintained a seven to eight point cushion despite aggressive play from the Cowgirls. In the final minutes of the half, the two teams played pretty evenly as the Pilots took a 26-20 lead in to the locker room.
Junior Ashley Elliott led the way with ten points, while forward Michelle Lieber was the leading rebounder with five for the Cowgirls. They struggled shooting 6-25 (.240) from the field and 2-9 (.222) from beyond the arc. Portland's Whitney Grant finished the half with ten points, and Khalila O'Rielly-Williams finished with six rebounds. The Pilots were 10-27 (.370) from the field and out rebounded the Cowgirls 20-18.
Wyoming started off the second half strong by scoring five straight to pull within one, but Portland answered with an 8-0 run to go back up 34-25. They continued to build upon that lead as the Cowgirls went on another scoring drought. Despite being down 38-28, UW continued to battle to within five points to again make the score 38-33. Unfortunately, the Pilots had other ideas as they scored the next nine of 12 to go up 47-36. Both team struggled on the offensive end but UP still held on to the double-digit lead. Up 51-41, the Pilots finally broke away going on an 8-2 run to close out the half for a 59-43 win.
"The most difficult thing is our poor shooting seems to be an overriding theme for us," said head coach Joe Legerski. "Not being able to make open shots or even lay-ups as tonight I think we missed at least five very simple shots. Those types of things our players need to understand how it changes the game. Instead of always having an uphill climb where you're always down, but you make a couple of shots and maybe you're back in the game.
"The biggest thing I always worry about during finals week is the mental drain that it takes out of you. I'm a firm believer that you have to take care of the academic side. We cut back on practices this week and you could see from the start tonight we were flat and didn't have a great deal of energy. We battled back, Portland answered and we just didn't have enough to make a comeback."
Ashley Elliott led all scorers with 20 points, along with chipping in five rebounds and two assists. She was followed by Michelle Lieber with six points and a team leading six boards. Wyoming continued to struggle from the field shooting 12-51 (.235) and 5-19 (.263) from the three-point line.
Portland had three players in double-figures including Khalila O'Rielly-Williams. She recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds. Whitney Grant and Jamie Medley both finished with 12 points. The Pilots shot 24-54 (.444) from the field.
Wyoming will now have a few days off before returning to regular season play. They will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 28 as they will face the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder at 2:00 p.m.