Fertig, Cowgirls outlast Wolf Pack, 62-53
* University of Wyoming Athletics media relations release
LARAMIE -- Allyson Fertig scored a career-high 24 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds on the way to her fifth double-double of the season as the Cowgirls held on to defeat Nevada Saturday afternoon in Laramie, escaping with a 62-53 win.
UW held the Wolf Pack to just eight points in the fourth quarter and didn’t relinquish the lead the final 31 minutes of the contest, despite Nevada tying the game numerous times.
“We played really well defensively not only in the fourth quarter but the entire game,” UW head coach Gerald Mattinson said. “We only had a couple of stretches there in the middle of the second quarter and towards the end of the third where we got a little tired, but I liked that we were aggressive. That’s what we talked about this week, is trying to get back to being a little more aggressive defensively. I thought we did a really good job handling their on-ball stuff and I knew that’s what we had to do.”
Fertig got the first three hoops for the Cowgirls (8-9, 4-4 MW) to open, which helped UW keep pace in the early going despite committing a trio of early turnovers and missing a few good looks from 3-point range.
Nevada (13-7, 5-3 MW) led 11-8 at the first quarter media timeout. Three consecutive hoops from Grace Ellis and Paula Salazar gave UW its first lead of the game, 15-14 with under a minute remaining in the first quarter. The Cowgirls ended the first on a 10-2 run and led 19-14 after one as Emily Mellema hit a running layup as time expired.
The Cowgirls opened the second continuing to shoot the ball well and upped the lead to 26-18 with over six minutes to play in the half. Nevada began to cut into the UW lead later in the quarter, scoring five-straight to make it 26-23.
McKinley Bradshaw hit the Cowgirls’ first 3-pointer of the game with under three minutes to play in the half, snapping a three-plus-minute scoreless drought for UW and ending the Wolf Pack’s mini-run.
After that, Fertig again went to work on the low block, scoring five consecutive points for the Cowgirls to make it 34-26 with 1:32 to play in the first half. Nevada responded late in the second to cut the UW lead down to 34-29 heading into the locker room. Wyoming shot 53.8-percent (14-for-26) in the first 20 minutes but went just 1-of-8 from beyond-the-arc and committed 10 turnovers leading to eight points for the Wolf Pack.
The second half began much like the first did, with Nevada finding its footing on the offensive end and Fertig carrying the way for the Cowgirls on that end as she scored the first three hoops of the third quarter for UW.
Wyoming led 40-36 with 4:46 left in the third. Bradshaw’s mid-range jumper was UW’s first points not from Fertig in the second half. Nevada would respond late in the third quarter to cut the deficit to just a single point, 46-45 heading into the fourth quarter thanks to a 9-4 run the final 2:56 of the frame.
The fourth quarter opened with a lot of physical defense on both ends of the court and the Cowgirls clinging to a 51-49 lead going into the game’s final media timeout with 5:47 to play. Both teams struggled offensively down the stretch with Nevada calling a timeout with 2:43 left and the Cowgirls up 54-53.
Bradshaw found a wide open Quinn Weidemann underneath the hoop with 1:34 to play to put the Cowgirls up 56-53 and led to a UW timeout with the ball after a defensive stop on the other end with 1:08 to play.
Bradshaw again found the open player on the next possession, this time it was Fertig and the Cowgirls led 58-53 with 52.1 left to play.
After another defensive stop by Wyoming, Alba Sanchez Ramos hit a pair at the free-throw line to push the advantage to seven points with 35 seconds remaining and led Nevada to call a timeout and advance the ball into the frontcourt. That defensive possession, the Cowgirls forced a turnover as the Wolf Pack went nearly the final three minutes without scoring.
UW struggled at the free-throw line on the day, going just 11-for-18, which proved to nearly be fatal down the stretch but hit four big ones when it mattered most in the final minute of the game.
Fertig finished the game shooting 11-of-17 from the floor, grabbing eight rebounds and had a pair of blocks. Bradshaw meanwhile added 18 of her own on 6-of-10 shooting and hit the Cowgirls’ lone 3-pointer of the contest. Bradshaw was just a rebound shy of a double-double and had a pair of steals and those two big assists late.
The Cowgirls got contributions from all over Saturday. Salazar chipped in with six points and four rebounds off the bench while Sanchez Ramos added five points, three boards and three assists.
Weidemann got the job done in other areas besides scoring Saturday, dishing-out a team-high four assists while also holding Nevada’s Da’Ja Hamilton to 12 points on just 5-of-14 shooting. Hamilton entered the game third in the Mountain West in conference-only contests averaging 17.1 points per game. Tommi Olson grabbed six boards and had a pair of steals in the win.
“I like our rotation right now and I like what we have on our bench. All those kids are young kids, I really like what they were able to come in and do,” Mattinson said.
Overall, the Cowgirls shot 25-for-54 (46.3-percent) for the game despite going just 1-of-13 from 3-point range. Nevada was held to 36.7-percent (22-of-60) from the floor and hit 4-of-18 from 3-point range. UW dominated the glass, registering a 44-27 rebounding advantage. The Cowgirls grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 second-chance points while the Wolf Pack scored just five on extra possessions.
Wyoming also controlled the paint, scoring 42 points inside to Nevada’s 18. The Wolf Pack was also held to just seven fast-break points in the contest and had just a 12-11 edge in points off turnovers despite committing 11 to UW’s 15. The Cowgirls had just five miscues in the second half.
“I was most concern coming into the game with Nevada’s pace that they play with and the way they come at you in transition. They’re a great transition team and I thought that we did a good job with that,” Mattinson added.
Next up, the Cowgirls will hit the road for another extended road trip next week, beginning with a 6:30 p.m., tipoff at Air Force on Feb. 2.
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