* University of Wyoming Athletics media relations release

LARAMIE -- Quinn Weidemann scored a career-high 25 points as the Wyoming Cowgirls opened Women’s NIT play with a thrilling 76-73 overtime victory over Idaho State Thursday night.

Although the Cowgirls (16-12) led for much of the game, the Bengals (19-12) would erase both an eight-point fourth quarter deficit and a seven-point overtime disadvantage.

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After a slow start offensively from both squads to begin, the Cowgirls got the offense going midway through the opening quarter, going on an 8-0 run to take a 10-4 lead with 5:34 remaining. Following the UW run, the Bengals hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie things at 10-10. The offensive struggles continued for both teams the final five minutes of the frame, but Wyoming got a couple of tough layups to fall from Emily Mellema and Alba Sanchez Ramos to end the first and the Cowgirls led 14-10 after one.

The offenses settled in to begin the second as Idaho State got the first two buckets of the quarter before an 8-2 run, seven of which coming from Weidemann, pushed the Cowgirl lead to 22-16. Again though, the Bengals would cut into the deficit as the game went to the second quarter media timeout with UW leading 22-20 with 4:54 remaining in the half. Following the timeout, the Bengals regained the lead on a 3-pointer before a pair of Tommi Olson free throws put Wyoming right back in front, 24-23 with 3:29 to go.

Both squads traded baskets in three consecutive trips down the floor next, leading to an Idaho State timeout with 2:01 to play in the second quarter and Wyoming up 28-25. After the timeout, the Bengals got back-to-back hoops and looked like they would head into the locker room with the lead.

But Sanchez Ramos had other plans as she beat the buzzer with a driving layup and the Cowgirls led 30-29 at the half.

The third quarter began with both teams hitting three of their first six shots to open the half and Wyoming clung to a 37-36 lead with 7:12 to go in the quarter. Out of an ISU timeout, Weidemann got a three-point play to extend the Cowgirls’ lead to 40-36 with 4:23 to play.

Following the third quarter media, the two teams again went back-and-forth with hoops before back-to-back 3-pointers from Mellema put UW out front 50-43, the biggest lead of the game for either team to that point. Wyoming led 51-43 heading to the fourth.

Idaho State opened the fourth with a 7-1 run and cut the deficit down to just 52-50 with a little over seven minutes to play. After a Grace Ellis layup, another Bengal 3-pointer made it a one-point game before a pair of Weidemann free throws pushed the score to 56-53 in favor of UW. After the two teams again traded makes, the Cowgirls took a timeout with 4:15 to play after an Allyson Fertig layup made the score 60-57.

The Bengals hit a 3-pointer to tie the game right out of the timeout but was answered by an “and-one” from Fertig with 3:35 to go.

ISU would tie things up with three free throws with 2:11 left and took its first lead of the second half on the next possession on a put-back layup. After a stop by each team, UW took a timeout with 45.8 seconds remaining and trailing 65-63.

Olson would tie things with a pair of freebies out of the timeout as the Bengals would then use their final timeout with 26.4 left. Following an offensive foul by ISU, the Cowgirls missed a pair of great looks underneath the hoop as the game was sent to overtime at 65-65.

In the OT, the Cowgirls got the first five points of the extra frame, leading to an Idaho State timeout with 2:47 to go at 70-65. After the timeout and another stop on defense, Weidemann’s driving layup pushed it to a seven-point advantage for Wyoming.

The Cowgirls would build the lead up to as many as eight in OT with 1:44 left, but again, ISU would respond with a run as four free throws and a 3-pointer made it 74-73 Cowgirls with 26 seconds to play. Weidemann would hit her seventh and eighth free throws, tying a career-high and then the Cowgirls got a final possession defensive stop to prevail and move onto the second round.

It marked the first time this season that Weidemann eclipsed the 20-point mark and fifth time during her career. Weidemann shot 8-of-12 from the floor and added a pair of assists and three steals on the night. Fertig and Sanchez Ramos added 14 points each while Fertig also added a game-high 11 rebounds to register her eighth double-double of the season.

Mellema and Olson chipped in with eight points each while Mellema had a pair of assists and Olson notched three. It also marked the 10th time this season that Olson didn’t commit a turnover.

The Bengals shot better from the field than the Cowgirls, shooting 47.5-percent overall and hitting 8-of-20 from 3-point range. Wyoming, meanwhile, shot 44.8-percent for the game and hit just 4-of-13 from beyond-the-arc.

However, UW made its mark at the free-throw line, shooting 20-for-24 at the stripe to ISU’s 9-of-10. The Cowgirls also had a 40-28 edge in points in the paint.

Wyoming now moves on to face Tulsa in the second round. The Cowgirls will welcome Tulsa to the AA for a 2 p.m., tip-off Sunday, March 20. Tickets for Sunday’s contest go on sale at 10 a.m., March 18. Season ticket holders have their seats on their account already. Season ticket holders just need to visit GoWyo.com/renew to get their tickets for the second round.

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