Not leaving Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- The Cowgirls (17-11, 12-6 MW) trailed by as many as 16 points in the second-half of their quarterfinal matchup against Utah State (8-23, 2-16 MW) before Wyoming surged back to take a 64-59 victory.
It is the largest comeback for the Cowgirls since a 17-point comeback against New Mexico in the 2018 Mountain West Tournament.
The Cowgirls were caught off guard early, but slowly battled back to pick up the thrilling victory and advance to the Mountain West semifinals for the third-consecutive year.
The Cowgirls will now face the second-seeded Boise State Broncos, who defeated Air Force earlier today.
Sophomore Tereza Vitulova led the Cowgirls in scoring with 19 points. She tied her career high by hitting a pair of three pointers, and tied her career high by blocking a pair of shots. Vitulova pulled down five rebounds and shot 8-of-10 from the floor. It’s the 21st time this season Vitulova has reached double-figure scoring.
Sophomore Quinn Weidemann scored 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Weidemann was clutch down the stretch, hitting four free throws in the final minute of the game. On the year, she is now 25-28 from the free throw line in the final minute of a game. Weidemann tied her career high with five assists to lead the Cowgirls. She also grabbed one defensive rebound.
Senior Taylor Rusk scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and a strong 2-of-3 from three-point range. Rusk led the Cowgirls with eight rebounds, and had three assists with zero turnovers. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., product added a steal and a blocked shot on the defensive end. Rusk has now reached double-figure scoring 13 times this year and 51 times in her career.
The Cowgirls outrebounded the Aggies, 29-26, and have now outrebounded 11 opponents in a row. Wyoming shot 45.8 percent (22-48) from the field, 43.8 percent (7-16) from three and 92.9 percent (13-14) from the free throw line. Wyoming had 13 assists to 11 turnovers.
VItulova opened the game’s scoring with a layup, but the Aggies went on a 9-0 run that Sanchez Ramos ended with a layup. The Cowgirls used an 11-1 run, highlighted by back-to-back triples from Weidemann, to go up 13-10 with 4:49 to play in the opening frame.
Vitulova ended a 3:30 scoring drought for UW with a layup, and the Cowgirls trailed 16-15. However, USU scored eight of the next five and the Cowgirls trailed 24-17 after one quarter.
Rusk started the second quarter with a spinning layup, and Weidemann scored a jumper to make it 24-21 for Utah State. With the Cowgirls on a seven-minute scoring drought, the Aggies pushed their lead to 37-21 before Rusk scored a layup and a pair of free throws. But a late layup gave Utah State a 39-25 halftime lead.
Vitulova scored five straight points to start the second half before USU scored a pair of free throws. Vitulova ended a 2:24 scoring drought with a layup, and the Cowgirls cut USU’s lead to 41-36 with 2:33 to go in the quarter. After the Aggies scored three, Vitulova and Rusk hit back-to-back threes to make it 44-42 after three quarters.
The Cowgirls outscored Utah State 17-5 in the third quarter.
Sophomore Tommi Olson drained a three on Wyoming’s first possession of the final frame, and the Cowgirls had just their first lead of the game, 45-44. They last held a lead when the game was 2-0. Sophomore Alba Sanchez Ramos and Weidemann then scored back-to-back layups, extending Wyoming’s run to 11-0 between the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth. The Aggies called timeout with UW leading 49-44 with 7:26 to play in the game.
Out of the break, Vitulova scored three straight before the Aggies ended the run with five in a row to make it 52-49.
The Cowgirls then scored eight of the next 10 points to balloon the lead to 60-51. After an Aggie three and Cowgirl miss, Utah State called timeout with 47.6 seconds remaining. Out of the stoppage, Utah State scored a layup and started fouling the Cowgirls. Weidemann scored both her shots to give Wyoming the 62-56 advantage with 25.4 remaining.
Wyoming got a stop and Weidemann scored two more free throws. Utah State hit a three at the buzzer, making the final score 64-59.
Utah State’s Hailey Bassett scored 18 points and had four rebounds. Emmie Harris scored 13 points, while Steph Gorman had 10 points and a team-high six assists.
The Aggies shot 44.9 percent (22-49) from the field, 52.9 percent (9-17) from three and 66.7 percent (6-9) from the free throw line. Utah State had 12 assists and 11 turnovers.
Wyoming will next face off against Boise State tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. (MT). The two teams met in last year’s MW Championship game.