LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team will take to the court on Wednesday for the first official practice of the 2020-21 season. The Cowgirls return three starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team that finished with a 17-12 overall record and a 12-6 mark in Mountain West play.
"We're very excited to get the season going," said head coach Gerald Mattinson. "My staff and I are especially proud of our team for staying healthy, as far as COVID-19 goes, during this time, and we'll be doing everything we can to keep that going throughout the season."
Mattinson is in his second year as the head coach of the Cowgirls. His 17 wins a season ago are a program record for a first-year head coach. It will be Mattinson's 18th year overall on the Cowgirl bench, as he was an assistant coach and associate head coach for 16 seasons prior to being named the head coach.
The trio of returning starters are guards Quinn WeidemannAlba Sanchez Ramos and Tommi Olson, all of whom are juniors.
Weidemann started every game a year ago and is Wyoming's top returning scorer, as the Omaha, Neb., native averaged 10.2 points per game a year ago. Weidemann also led Wyoming in three pointers made (46) and free throws made (65), while finishing second on the team in minutes played (32.0) and steals (30).
Sanchez Ramos also started all 29 games as a sophomore last season, and averaged 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Her rebounding was second-best on the team, while her scoring was fourth. Sanchez Ramos made 27 triples and 27 free throws, while chipping in 12 blocks and 19 steals on the defensive end.
Olson started the last 11 games of the season, helping guide the Cowgirls to an 8-3 record in those games. She finished second on the Cowgirls with 2.5 assists per game and chipped in 1.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. In games she started, the Worland, Wyo., native increased her averages to 2.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Defensively, she led Wyoming with 36 steals on the year.
Other returners include seniors Jaye Johnson and Emily Buchanan, as well as sophomores McKinley Bradshaw and Paige Toomer (formerly Paige Powell). Jaeden Vaifanua, a member of the Mountain West All-Freshman team a year ago, is serving a church mission.
Johnson averaged 1.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game last year while playing in 24 contests, averaging 7.0 minutes per game. She added six steals and a pair of blocks on the defensive end. Buchanan saw action in five contests, averaging 0.6 points, 0.8 rebounds and 5.6 minutes per game. Defensively, Buchanan added one steal to her totals.
Bradshaw played every game as a freshman, averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in 12.5 minutes per contest. Her season was highlighted by a 26-point outing against Mississippi Valley State, where she single-handedly outscored the Devilettes, 26-22. Toomer suffered a knee injury early in the season a year ago.
Newcomers to this year's squad include transfers Dagny Davidsdottir and Iris Tsafara, as well as freshmen Lexi BullGrace EllisLandri HudsonPaula SalazarMarta Savic and Ola Ustowska.
Davidsdottir is a graduate transfer from Niagara, where she had career averages of 3.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. As a senior a year ago, she averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 17.5 minutes per contest. Tsafara spent one season at South Florida, where she redshirted.
Bull was named all-conference, all-region and all-state in both 2019 and 2020 while playing at Century High School in Pocatello, Idaho. During her senior season, she averaged 18.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 3.9 blocks and 3.4 steals per game. Ellis prepped at St. Peter's Lutheran College in Brisbane, Australia, where she was a multi-sport athlete. Ellis's basketball team went undefeated her senior season.
Hudson earned two state championships during her high school career at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo. She earned a pair of all-league honors and was ranked as the top shooting guard in Colorado Class 5A by Colorado Girls Hoops. Salazar played on teams that made deep runs in Spanish tournaments, as the Barcelona native was named to one tournament's Ideal Quintet.
Savic has international experience, as she averaged 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game at the FIBA U18 European Championships for Croatia in 2019. She was also a Croatian club champion in 2019 and runner-up in 2018. Ustowska competed for Poland at the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championships, where she averaged 3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. She earned three club championships in a row during her prep career in Poland.
The Cowgirls have their Mountain West schedule announced, and they will open up league play on Dec. 31, when they travel to face San José State. A non-conference schedule and information on tickets for Cowgirl basketball games will be announced in the coming weeks.

-- University of Wyoming press release

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