* University of Wyoming press release

LAS VEGAS, Nev., – In what ended up being a defensive battle between the Mountain West’s top two teams, UNLV was able to pull away in the fourth quarter and then hung on late against the Wyoming Cowgirls, 58-51 Wednesday in Sin City.

Both Teams were held to their second-lowest point outputs of the season.

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The first half showed why Wyoming and UNLV came into Wednesday tied atop the league standings. Both teams traded hoops and strong defense back-and-forth to begin, as things were tied 15-15 after one. The second quarter saw the Cowgirl offense slow down until the last couple of minutes, as a defensive struggle broke out in the frame. UW trailed 27-26 at halftime.

McKinley Dickerson, Emily Mellema and Malene Pedersen combined for 22 of Wyoming’s first half points.

The Lady Rebels came out in the third quarter and took control a bit, building their lead up to 37-30 at the media timeout.

The Cowgirls struggled from deep through the first three quarters, shooting just 1-of-13 from 3-point range in the first 30 minutes. UW came out of the timeout and cut the deficit down to just one, 37-36 before UNLV got a three-point play to close the scoring in the quarter, pushing the lead back up to 40-36.

UW’s offensive struggles continued in the fourth as UNLV built the lead up to 10, 46-36 as Wyoming called a timeout with under seven minutes to play. The Cowgirls would not go away, however, as a Tess Barnes 3-pointer with 2:10 left got UW within one possession, 50-47, forcing a Lady Rebel timeout.

That would be as close as Wyoming would get, as UNLV closed out the final two-plus minutes with some tough shot making and a couple of defensive stands. The Rebels were also solid at the free-throw line late.

Mellema and Pedersen led the Cowgirls with 12 points each in the loss. Dickerson also finished in double figures, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven boards off the bench. Marta Savic also provided some solid reserve minutes, scoring six and grabbing a couple of rebounds. Allyson Fertig led UW with eight rebounds on the night.

Wyoming ended up shooting 44-percent overall and was 2-of-19 from beyond-the-arc. UNLV shot just 39.3-percent and hit four 3-pointers. UNLV won the rebounding battle, 37-30 and had an 11-2 advantage on points off turnovers. The Lady Rebels committed just three turnovers on the night. UW had a 36-30 edge in points in the paint.

The Cowgirls return home now after back-to-back games on the road. Wyoming will host Nevada at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3.

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