* University of Wyoming Athletics media relations release

LARAMIE -- A big run in the third quarter and a great display of defense from Wyoming helped lead the Cowgirl basketball team to a 71-45 win Sunday afternoon in Laramie over North Dakota State. The Cowgirls outscored the Bison 22-10 in the second half’s opening 10 minutes and by 19 overall for the second half.

“Once again, we played tremendously defensively,” said head coach Gerald Mattinson postgame. “What an effort. I’m really proud of what we did defensively, especially against their two leading scorers, the two kids that we need to take away and we did a great job on those two.”

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The Cowgirls struggled to get shots to fall in the game’s opening minutes, while NDSU committed five early turnovers to open the contest. UW started the game just 1-of-9 from the field, while the Bison took just one shot in the game’s first three minutes due to the turnovers. NDSU committed eight turnovers in the first quarter.

Paula Salazar’s 3-pointer off the bench with 6:28 to go in the first, broke a 2-2 tie for the Cowgirls. Out of the first quarter media timeout, both teams continued to struggle to get shots to fall. UW shot just 2-of-18 from the floor while the Bison shot 2-for-13 as UW led just 8-4 after one.

Allyson Fertig, making her first-career start Sunday, opened the scoring in the second quarter with an opening-possession layup. Fertig got the first two hoops of the frame for Wyoming. NDSU also opened the second shooting better, hitting its first two 3-pointers of the quarter.  Quinn Weidemann’s 3-pointer just before the second quarter media gave UW the 16-12 advantage with 4:57 left in the half.

Another Weidemann three and back-to-back layups from Tommi Olson and Grace Ellis pushed the Cowgirl lead up to 23-17 before a Bison hoop with a minute to play in the second, cut it back to four. Weidemann hit her third 3-pointer of the quarter the next time down the court for the Cowgirls and they led 26-19 at the half.

The second half began with the two teams trading baskets before a McKinley Bradshaw 3-pointer sparked a quick 6-0 run, giving UW its largest lead of the game to that point, 34-21 with 7:22 to play in the third quarter.

Out of the third quarter media, Bradshaw’s pull-up jumper sparked a 12-0 run from the Cowgirls as they pushed the advantage to 46-24 with 2:36 to play in the frame. UW continued to play stifling defense in the third and carried a 48-29 lead into the fourth.

NDSU opened the fourth with a 3-pointer with 9:03 to go, but back-to-back hoops from the Cowgirls stopped any notion of a Bison comeback, as UW went back up 53-32 with 8:05 to play. The Cowgirls even extended their lead later in the quarter, as the lead ballooned to 29 points at one point late in the fourth.

“I thought we had a lot of good looks offensively. In the first quarter I don’t know how many layups we missed, but we just kept chipping away. We went 11-of-24 from three and I know we’re only a 26-percent shooting team on the season, but I keep saying I know we’re not that poor and today, for the most part, I thought we handled their defensive looks well. We put up 71 but I thought we could have gotten to 80 or 85,” continued Mattinson.

Weidemann led four Cowgirls in double figures with 14 points in the contest. Weidemann shot 4-of-8 from the floor and buried 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Fertig added 12 points and grabbed four rebounds while Bradshaw and Ola Ustowksa chipped in with 10 points each.

Alba Sanchez Ramos had a solid all-around game as she scored eight points, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and, along with Emily Mellema, led the way with four assists. Olson added five boards and had four steals on the day.

Wyoming shot 36.4 percent from the floor for the game, but hit 15-of-33 (45.5 percent) in the second half. The Cowgirls also hit a season-best 11 3-pointers on 45.8 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc. NDSU was held to just 28.8 percent shooting and 5-of-21 from the floor. The 45 points allowed by the Cowgirls are an opponent-low this season.

Both teams had 25 bench points and nine second-chance points in the contest, with the Cowgirls owning a slight 24-18 advantage in points in the paint. UW’s big edge came via points off turnovers as the Cowgirls scored 23 off 19 Bison turnovers, while NDSU scored eight on nine UW turnovers.

The Cowgirls are now off for finals week and will next return to action to close-out non-conference play with a trip to Big Ten country as UW faces Nebraska December 22 at 11 a.m., MT in Lincoln.

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