Cowgirls Mountain West Tournament Run Ends in Title Game
* University of Wyoming press release
LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- The University of Wyoming women’s basketball team’s quest for a Mountain West Conference Tournament title came up one game short Wednesday. The No. 2-seeded Cowgirls lost to top-seeded and No. 21 UNLV, 71-60, during the conference championship game inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Congratulations to UNLV. That’s a really good team that’s going to represent the Mountain West really well in the NCAA Tournament,” UW head coach Heather Ezell said. “I’ve got a group here that I’m so proud of, and I’m lucky to be their coach. It didn’t fall their way, but I got a team that’s still ready to fight and still ready to come in every day and ready to go.
“That’s what I love about coaching this team.”
Wyoming will not wait and see if it’s selected for the WNIT. That decision will be made Sunday night.
Wyoming struggled from the floor, hitting just 40.4 percent (23-for-57) of its field-goal attempts and 34.4 percent (11-for-32) of its 3-pointers. UNLV connected on 50.9 percent (28-for-55) of its shots from the floor and 40 percent (6-for-15) of its attempts from deep.
Tess Barnes came off the bench and led the Cowgirls offensively with 13 points with a trio of triples. Emily Mellema also came off the bench to score 10, and Grace Ellis had 10 points, as well.
Desi-Rae Young paced the Lady Rebels with a game-high 28 points and 17 rebounds. Essence Booker added 19 points, while Alyssa Durazo-Frescas chipped in with 12.
The Cowgirls and Lady Rebels traded punches during the first portion of the opening period before each team went on a modest run. After UNLV staked itself to a 17-10 advantage, Wyoming closed on a 5-0 spurt with buckets from Allyson Fertig and Barnes.
UNLV began to extend its lead, once again, during the second frame. The Lady Rebels took an eight-point lead on two different occasions, however, an Ellis three and a late-in-the-shot-clock bucket from Mellema made it a 31-28 game at the break.
The Lady Rebels constructed their largest lead of the game, compiling 12 of the first 14 points of the second half. That gave them a 43-30 cushion.
The Cowgirls responded with the help of the 3-point line. Four different players – Ellis, Mellema, Quinn Weidemann and Malena Pedersen – connected on a total of five 3-pointers that trimmed UNLV’s lead to 50-49 with under a minute to play in the stanza.
UNLV pushed its lead back out to double figures prior to Wyoming making one final run. A Barnes’ 3 cut the deficit to six at 61-55 at the 5:51 mark, but that’s as close as the Cowgirls would draw down the stretch.