* University of Wyoming press release

LARAMIE -- Grace Ellis scored a career-high 16 points, and the Wyoming Cowgirls battled all night, but it was not enough Tuesday night in Wyoming’s home opener against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs closed the final 2:41 with a 10-2 run to escape Laramie with a 66-64 win. GU hit the game-winning shot with 9.5 seconds left in the game, breaking a 64-64 tie.

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After Gonzaga jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, a 7-0 Cowgirl run, spearheaded by a Quinn Weidemann 3-pointer and steal and layup, cut the deficit to just one, 11-10.

The Bulldogs would bank in a shot just before the first quarter media timeout and led 13-10 with 3:24 left in the first quarter. A Malene Pedersen spinning layup gave the Cowgirls their first lead of the game, 14-13 with just under a minute to play. The Bulldogs held a 15-14 lead after one.

UW got the first hoop of the second quarter via another Pedersen lay-in, and then reclaimed the lead a bit later in the frame on a Ellis 3-pointer. Both teams would begin trading hoops, with GU gaining the upper hand, 28-26 at the media timeout with 3:15 remaining in the half.

Out of the timeout, another Weidemann three made the score 29-28 in favor of the Brown & Gold. An Emily Mellema driving lefty layup beat the buzzer after a pair of Bulldog free throws, and Wyoming held a 31-30 advantage at the break.

Out of halftime, the two teams’ offenses continued to hum as both the Cowgirls and Gonzaga exchanged baskets in the early going. The physicality from both teams turned up in the third quarter, but the Cowgirls maintained their edge, 42-37 at the third quarter timeout. Gonzaga began to find its rhythm after UW pushed the lead to seven, ending the third on a 9-3 scoring run as the Cowgirls’ lone points came at the free-throw line. Wyoming clung to a 47-46 lead going into the contest’s final 10 minutes.

The Bulldogs looked to be taking control in the fourth, beginning the quarter where the third left off and took a 50-47 lead before a much-needed Pedersen 3-pointer knotted things back up.

After that, both teams went blow-for-blow before a quick 8-0 run from the Cowgirls led to a GU timeout with 4:28 left and Wyoming holding onto a 58-54 lead. Following the timeout, Wyoming got back-to-back layups after a Gonzaga score and took a 62-56 lead with under three to go.

Following a Bulldog layup and timeout, Gonzaga got back-to-back hoops of its own and tied things at 62-62 and then called another timeout with 1:27 to play. After the timeout, GU continued its run, taking the lead with 41 seconds left.

After a pair of Mellema free throws tied things back up with 36.1 left, the Bulldogs hit a shot with 9.5 remaining. UW’s last-second shot was off, and Gonzaga survived for the win.

“It’s one of those games where, I’m not into moral victories, but I’m really proud of the way our team competed,” said UW head coach Heather Ezell. “That is what we have been seeing in practice every day and they left it all out on the court, we just couldn’t get that last bucket to fall or get that last stop that we needed to.”

Weidemann led the way in the loss with 17 points as her and Ellis were the only Cowgirls to finish in double figures on the night. Allyson Fertig added nine while Pedersen and Marta Savic scored eight each. Pedersen contributed six boards and three assists as well while Savic had a game-high eight rebounds and added a block.

Gonzaga shot better from the floor on the night, going 28-for-61 for a 46-percent clip while the Cowgirls shot 42.6-percent (23-54). However, UW made two more 3-pointers than the Bulldogs and had a 13-7 advantage in made free throws. GU outscored the Cowgirls 44-34 in the paint and had a 14-5 edge in points off turnovers.

Wyoming got after it on the hustle stats, outscoring Gonzaga 11-6 on second-chance points and 11-4 on fast break scoring.

Wyoming looks for its first win of 2022-23 Friday as it continues a three-game homestand. Denver will be the opponent for a 6:30 p.m., contest.

“Tonight, I give our kids a lot of credit, they left everything on the floor, I don’t think anyone has anything left in the tank. Now we have to turnaround tomorrow and be ready to go, we’ve got to be able to focus on Denver coming in here on Friday night,” continued Ezell.

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