LARAMIE, Wyo. (Nov. 17, 2016) — The Wyoming women’s basketball team (2-1 overall) battled and earned a hard fought victory, 59-49, over the Denver Pioneers (1-2 overall) on Thursday night.
Four Cowgirls finished the night in double figures in the win. Junior Natalie Baker and sophomore Rachelle Tucker each had 11 points while Baker led the way with eight rebounds. Sophomore Bailee Cotton and freshman Taylor Rusk recorded ten points. Wyoming shot 22-of-57 (.386) from the field and 11-of-16 (.688) from the charity stripe. UW out rebounded the Pioneers, 35-27.
“Tonight’s game like our assistant Gerald Mattinson said was like our first couple of years coaching here. You have to defend, grind things out and somebody makes a play down the stretch,” head coach Joe Legerski. “I thought we really stepped up defensively. We struggled early shooting the basketball and it seemed like we couldn’t get any momentum going. In the second half, we changed what we wanted to do on the defensive side, got more aggressive with the on ball screen and Clara (Tapia) hit a big three down the stretch. Taylor (Rusk) also had a nice left handed shot with the shot clock winding down. She was amazing tonight and played with the composure of an upperclassmen.”
Denver was led by Jacqlyn Poss with nine points followed by Jesse Spittel and Haley Simental with eight points each. Ciera Morgan finished her night with a team-high six rebounds. The Pioneers shot 16-of-40 (.400) from the field and 14-of-18 (.778) from the charity stripe.
The Cowgirls opened up the third quarter with six straight points to regain a 34-32 advantage. After DU tied it up, Wyoming would build the lead to five, 46-41, at the end of the period. Denver responded with six unanswered to go up by one, 47-46. Two baskets from Cotton and a big three-point field goal by Clara Tapia helped the Cowgirls take back the 53-49 advantage. With just over a minute to go in the game, Rusk hit a jumper followed by free throws would seal the 59-49 victory.
Wyoming went up early in the game, 6-2. The Pioneers responded with a 9-2 run to go up three, 11-8. The teams combined for seven points the rest of the quarter to make it 13 all after one. In the second quarter, the scoring went back and forth until a small run extended the Pioneer lead to seven, 28-21. The Cowgirls battled back to within two, 28-26, but Denver scored the next four of six to take a 32-28 lead in to the locker room.
Tucker and Rusk led the way for the Cowgirls with eight points each. Cotton added six points and four boards. Wyoming shot 11-of-32 (.344) from the field and just 2-of-13 (.154) from beyond the arc. The Pioneers were led by Lauren Loven with six points and Poss with five. DU shot 9-of-21 (.429) from the field and 11-of-12 (.917) from the free throw line.
Wyoming will continue its homestand on Sunday against the Cal State Fullerton Titans. The game is set for a 1:00 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.