Johnson’s buzzer-beater lifts Cowgirls to thrilling 65-63 win
LARAMIE -- Jaye Johnson’s tip-in to beat the buzzer gave the Wyoming women’s basketball team a thrilling 65-63 come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon over Fresno State in Laramie as the Cowgirls have now won three consecutive games. Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound off a Quinn Weidemann missed 3-pointer and was able to lay it in as time expired to finish her heroics.
Johnson, who was making just her second career start Saturday, finished the game with eight points, including a pair of much-needed 3-pointers to go along with three boards, a block and a steal in the win. Weidemann led the way offensively for the Cowgirls as she scored 16 points and drained a season-best four 3-pointers while also notching a game-high four steals. Alba Sanchez Ramos was also in double figures in the win as she scored 14 on 5-of-12 shooting while adding five boards and four assists.
Sanchez Ramos gave the Cowgirls (4-2, 2-1 MW) the lead late in the game as her 3-point play with 16 seconds left broke a 60-60 tie before the Bulldogs’ (3-4, 1-2 MW) Haley Cavinder hit a game-tying 3-pointer with nine seconds left to play and looked to be sending the game into overtime before Johnson’s heroics took place.
“As soon as I saw that Quinn had the ball in her hands there at the end, I just told her ‘you got it,’” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson postgame.
“Instead of calling a timeout, I had a really good feeling with the ball in her hands. I thought we got a good look and it came off the right way and Jaye was there. Great effort. We talk about playing 40 minutes and you got to make every play during all 40 minutes.”
Fresno State controlled the contest in the first half of play, leading from start-to-finish in the opening 20 minutes. The Bulldogs led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter and in the second, lengthened their lead to as many as 11, 32-21 with 3:42 left to go in the half. Wyoming ended the half on a 10-4 run thanks to 3-pointers by Weidemann and Tommi Olson and four points from Marta Savic, who had a nice game off the bench, scoring eight points to go along with four rebounds and a block. Fresno took a 36-31 advantage into the locker room.
In the third quarter, the Cowgirls fought their way back to tie the game at 44-44 with 1:30 left to play thanks to a 3-pointer from Ola Ustowska. Ustowksa led the UW bench with nine points in the win. However, the Bulldogs would close the quarter with five straight and led 49-44 after 30 minutes.
In the final quarter, the Brown & Gold offense came alive as Wyoming outscored Fresno State 21-14 in the final 10 minutes. The Cowgirls went on a big run midway through the quarter after falling behind 51-44 and went on a 13-2 run from 8:36 left to play until 4:15 left in the game and forced a Bulldog timeout after taking a 57-53 lead. The Bulldogs would regain the lead for the final time with 1:35 left to play on a Haley Cavinder 3-pointer to make the score 58-57 before Sanchez Ramos’ deep 3-pointer of her own pushed UW back in front 60-58 with one minute to play.
“Against Fresno you got to make shots and there was a couple of stretches tonight where we made some shots and then there were a few times where we were able to create some layups in defensive transition where we made a great play. I thought everybody today gave us good, quality minutes,” said Mattinson.
For the game, FSU shot 42.4 percent (25-for-59) from the floor and went 7-of-18 (39 percent) from 3-point range and made 6-of-9 at the free-throw line. The Cowgirls shot just 38 percent (24-63) from the floor but made 11 3-pointers in the win and missed just one free throw while going 6-of-7 at the line. UW had a big advantage in points off turnovers, doubling up the Bulldogs in that statistic, 14-7 and had a 20 to 3 edge in second-chance points as the Cowgirls out-rebounded their first opponent of the year, 38-37.
Olson led the Cowgirls on the glass, pulling down eight boards while also dishing out a game-high six assists and recording two steals to go along with six points all coming from beyond-the-arc. Haley Cavinder led FSU with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting including 4-of-5 from distance.
The two teams will finish their two-game series Monday at the Arena-Auditorium in a 6:30 p.m., tip.