Late Heroics Lift Cowgirls Past Wichita State in Thriller
* University of Wyoming press release
WICHITA, Kan., – The Wyoming Cowgirls closed their non-conference slate in thrilling fashion Tuesday night at Wichita State, defeating the Shockers 61-56.
Grace Ellis provided the heroics late for the Cowgirls, hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the final 5:04, including what would be the game-winner, breaking a 56-56 tie with 1:05 to play. The win is the Cowgirls’ first true road victory this season and the first loss suffered by Wichita State at home.
The Cowgirls (7-4) held an 11-point advantage at halftime, 28-17 and led by as many as 13 early in the second quarter and by 12 later in the frame. However, a 16-5 run by Wichita State (9-3) to end the final five minutes of the third, cut the Wyoming lead down to just one, 40-39 entering the fourth.
The Shockers opened the fourth much like they did to end the third, scoring eight of the first 10 points in the frame and taking their biggest lead of the game, 47-42 with 6:42 to play. UW would fight its way back, going on an 8-0 run to surge back in front, 50-47 with 5:04 left. The run was capped by Ellis’ first 3-pointer of the quarter. After that, it was Wichita’s turn to answer, going up 53-51 with 2:32 remaining.
After Ellis’ second three of the frame, the Shockers got an “and-one” layup to regain the lead, 56-54 with 1:51 left. Allyson Fertig knotted things up at 56-56 on a layup the next time down the court for the Cowgirls and after a defensive stop, Ellis’ 3-pointer proved to be the dagger. Wyoming got another defensive stop and then a pair of free throws from Quinn Weidemann salted the game away.
“What a fourth quarter, man there was a lot of ebbs and flows to that game,” said Associate Head Coach Ryan Larsen. “We had five turnovers in the first quarter and ended with 10 for the game, there’s the difference right there in the game. You know, we got that lead in the second quarter by defending and we didn’t do that in the third and I had to kind of get on them there during a timeout in the third. But that defensive energy sure changed in the fourth quarter. Man, what a game. Our starters really came through tonight.”
The trio of Ellis, Fertig and Weidemann really carried the Cowgirls in the win, combining for 41 points on the night. Fertig, who recorded her third double-double of the season, led Wyoming with 16 points and grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds. Fertig was also a monster defensively, finishing with career-highs in blocks and steals with four in each category.
Weidemann finished the night with 13 points and added four assists while Ellis had 12 points, all of which coming from beyond-the-arc. Malene Pedersen added seven in the victory and had four rebounds and Wyoming’s fifth block on the night. Off the bench, Emily Mellema and Marta Savic added five points each with Mellema dishing out three assists.
On the night, the Cowgirls shot 22-for-52 (42.3-percent) from the floor and made 8-of-15 from 3-point range. The Shockers shot just 32.2-percent (19-59) from the field and made just two of their 12 shots from the perimeter. WSU really did its damage at the free-throw line, going a perfect 16-of-16 at the stripe while the Cowgirls hit just 9-of-14.
Wichita State out-rebounded the Cowgirls 36-33 in the contest but came into the game out-rebounding its opponents by 10 boards per game. The Shockers did have a 12-2 advantage in second-chance points and a 6-0 edge in points off of turnovers. UW had a slight edge, 28-26 in paint scoring and had 13 bench points to the Shockers’ two.
“It always feels awesome going into break on a win. The kids can relax and spend time with their families, and just get away for break and come back energized for practice after Christmas. It always is easier after a win, especially after a thrilling win like that one,” continued Larsen.
Wyoming is off for the Holiday and will next be in action with Mountain West play. The Cowgirls travel to UNLV Dec. 29 for the league-opener. The Lady Rebels won both the regular season and tournament titles in the conference last season.
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