Cowgirls Win Big Over Matadors

Dec. 31, 2003

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Laramie, Wyoming (Dec. 30, 2003) -- The Wyoming basketball team (2-7 overall) closed out the year 2003 with an impressive 72-53 victory over the Cal State Northridge Matadors (1-7 overall) on Tuesday night in Laramie.

There wasn't a lot scoring in the early part of the first half until an 8-0 run gave CSUN the early 8-2 lead, but the Cowgirls answered with six straight to even it all up at eight. After a quick basket from the Matadors a three point field goal from Ashley Elliott gave UW their first lead of the game 11-10. Both teams went on a several minute scoring drought until a Sara Hippen layup ended the streak. The Cowgirls would build upon that lead by scoring the final 14 of 19 points to take a 25-15 lead in to the locker room.

Junior Ashley Elliott led all scorers with 11 in her 20 minutes of play. Forward Michelle Lieber finished with five rebounds to lead the Cowgirls. Wyoming was 9-29 (.310) from the field. LaJoyce King finished the half with five points and five rebounds to lead the Matadors.

Wyoming picked up where they left off by opening up the second half with a 7-1 run to take a 32-16. Over the next couple of minutes the two teams played fairly even as the Cowgirls continued to maintain their double-digit lead. Down 37-21, the Matadors scored the next nine of fifteen to close the margin to 43-30, but a couple of quick baskets from Wyoming helped them regain a 16-point advantage. Another six unanswered from CSUN pulled them to within twelve, but another Tarah LaPar three-point shot broke up that streak. The Matadors were relentless as they just wouldn't go away despite an extremely composed Cowgirl team. A couple of three-point baskets helped them to pull within eleven unfortunately it would be as close as they would get. Finally with the clock winding down, UW would pull away behind free throws to come away with a 72-53 victory.

Four of the five starters scored in double-figures for the Cowgirls, including Ashley Elliott. She led all scorers with 20 points along with six assists, five rebounds and four steals. Freshman Tarah LaPar scored a career high 13 points, followed by Kristen Lenhardt and Michelle Lieber with ten. Lieber also recorded the first double-double of her career with a team high ten rebounds. Wyoming shot 22-53 (.415) from the field, while scoring a season high 72 points.

The Matadors had two players in double-figures for the game. Kim Gildersleeve finished with 12 points followed by LaJoyce King with ten. The leading rebounder was Ofa Tulikihihifo with eight along with chipping in eight points. Cal State Northridge shot 22-57 (.386) from the field, but committed 21 turnovers.

"This is big win for us," said head coach Joe Legerski. "We needed to find a way to win at home, get some confidence for this team and program, and winning always helps to believe in your self. The way we started out tonight, falling behind early, we're just trying to get them to come out from the start. Once we got going, we ended the fist half on a 23-7 run, so I was really pleased with their effort.

"Tarah LaPar got us going with a couple of three point shots. We made the change for this game in starting Tarah, and we made the change to move Kristen to the inside. She's been playing at the three spot, which is out of position for her, and tonight she was a lot more active on the defensive end.

"This will be a huge confidence builder for us. We've been down so much this year that we need to start believing that we can step up and make some plays."

The Cowgirls will continue play at home by hosting two games over the weekend. They welcome the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, on Friday afternoon, and the Navy Midshipmen, on Sunday afternoon. Both games will begin at 2:00 p.m. in the Arena Auditorium.