* University of Wyoming press release

BOZEMAN, Mont., – The Wyoming Cowgirls had a sloppy first quarter taking care of the basketball and then couldn’t overtake Montana State late in the fourth as the Bobcats pulled away late in the Cowgirls’ 64-55 loss on the road Sunday.

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It was an ugly start to the game for the Cowgirls. Wyoming shot just 2-of-9 in the game’s first 10 minutes and had 10 turnovers. Meanwhile, MSU shot 6-of-12 in the first quarter and held a 13-5 lead after one.

An Ola Ustowksa 3-pointer got things started in the second for the Cowgirls. The offensive woes continued for Wyoming to begin the frame, but Ustowska’s second three and then a Fertig layup inside cut the deficit to 19-15 with 6:20 left in the half, forcing a Bobcat timeout. After the timeout, both teams continued to be pests on the defensive end. UW was strong down the stretch though, as an Emily Mellema running layup to end the half, helped the Cowgirls close on an 8-3 spurt, the final 2:45 of the second and the Cowgirls trailed just 26-25 at the break. Wyoming had a 15-7 extended run, the final seven-plus minutes of the first half.

The Cowgirls shot 9-of-24 from the field in the first 20 minutes and committed 14 first half turnovers. However, Wyoming made four 3-pointers, three free throws and forced the Bobcats into 10 turnovers of their own. UW also enjoyed an 18-12 rebound advantage in the first half.

In the third quarter, Ustowksa continued her hot shooting as Wyoming got its first lead of the game on her third 3-pointer. After that, the Bobcats got the lead right back as things started to go back-and-forth in the quarter. After a Malene Pedersen 3-pointer pushed UW in front by four, Montana State responded, and things were tied at 35-35 at the media timeout. Following the timeout, the Bobcats continued their run and pushed their lead back up to eight, 45-37. However, a 7-0 run from UW got the score back to within one. MSU led 47-44 going into the fourth after ending the third with a pair at the free-throw line.

Wyoming got the first four points of the fourth, with a couple of layups to take a 48-47 lead with a little over seven minutes to play. Once again though, the Bobcats were able to respond immediately after that to reclaim the lead. The Cowgirls just couldn’t get over the hump the rest of the game as the Bobcats kept the margin at a possession or two for much of the final seven minutes as the Wyoming offense went cold late despite some excellent looks, especially from beyond-the-arc. The Cowgirls missed all six of their attempts from 3-point range in the fourth.

Pedersen led the Cowgirls with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-for-7 from deep. Allyson Fertig had eight points and eight rebounds in the loss while tying a career-high with five blocks. Ustowksa finished the game with nine points while Emily Mellema and Marta Savic also added eight apiece. Mellema and Pedersen led Wyoming with four and three assists, respectively.

After shooting just 5-of-16 in the fourth, the Cowgirls finish the game shooting 38.5-percent (20-52) overall and went 7-for-22 from beyond-the-arc. MSU shot 21-for-46 (45.7-percent) and hit 4-of-9 from 3-point land. UW finished with 20 turnovers and ended up getting out-rebounded, 31-30.

The Bobcat bench outscored UW reserves, 26-9. Montana State had an 18-13 edge in points off turnovers while both teams scored 22 points in the paint. MSU had a 9-7 edge in second-chance points while the Cowgirls had nine fast break points to Montana State’s four.

Wyoming now closes the non-conference slate with a pair of neutral-site contests next week. The Cowgirls play Wright State and Eastern Washington December 21 and 22, respectively at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.

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