Cowgirls upset second-ranked UNLV
LAS VEGAS -- The Wyoming Cowgirls hit a Mountain West Tournament record 15 3-pointers Monday night on their way to an upset win over No. 2 seed UNLV, 72-56, in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament.
Wyoming (12-9) shot 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) from beyond-the-arc against the Lady Rebels and shot an even 50 percent (26-of-52) overall from the field. The Cowgirls also got the job done on the defensive end, holding UNLV to 38 percent shooting and held the Lady Rebels to 14 points below their season-scoring average.
"I'm so proud of this group and my staff," said UW head coach Gerald Mattinson. "The staff worked hard last night to get us a scout that had us ready to go and we could execute. The girls came out tonight and competed and were ready to go.
"We played well, we shot the ball well. Over our last eight games, we've started to shoot the ball well. Over time throughout the season, your team begins to figure out who they are and what they can do and we're starting to do that."
Both teams struggled to find their footing offensively to begin the game as the score was tied at 5-5 at the under-five first quarter media timeout. Back-to-back 3-pointers out of the timeout from Tommi Olson and Quinn Weidemann broke the tie and put UW up 11-5.
The Cowgirls would get a couple of baskets in the paint towards the end of the quarter and led 15-8 after one.
A Weidemann 3-pointer with just under six minutes left in the half gave Wyoming a 22-12 lead. Following the second quarter media, McKinley Bradshaw scored four consecutive points for UW and it led 26-15 with 2:29 to go in the half. The Cowgirls' strong first half shooting from outside continued the final minute of the half as 3-pointers by Olson, her third of the half, and Grace Ellis, gave Wyoming a 32-21 lead going into the locker room.
Back-to-back layups from the Cowgirls opened the half and UW had a 36-21 lead two and a half minutes into the third. From that point however, UNLV went on an 8-0 run and cut the Wyoming lead down to 36-29 before a Bradshaw shot from deep stopped the bleeding.
Bradshaw's free throws out of the media timeout put the Cowgirls back up by double digits, 43-32 with 3:44 to go in the quarter.
Wyoming hit three more from beyond-the-arc to end the quarter on a 9-0 run and took a 54-36 lead into the final 10 minutes.
The Lady Rebels opened the fourth with the first two baskets before an Ola Ustowska 3-pointer with 7:39 to play put UW up 57-40. After UNLV cut the lead back down to 12, 57-45, back-to-back hoops from Weidemann put the Cowgirls up 62-45 with a little over five left to play before Olson's career-high fourth 3-pointer made it a 20-point advantage, leading to a UNLV timeout with 4:09 left.
Out of the timeout, the two teams traded 3-pointers but UNLV would only get as close as 16 points down the stretch as the Cowgirls closed out the final minutes and sealed their trip to the semifinal round.
With the win, Wyoming will now make its fourth-consecutive trip to the conference tournament semifinals and the eighth overall trip in program history.
"Defensively, the kids absorbed a lot today," continued Mattinson. "We played UNLV so long ago, they're almost a completely different team now. We watched film, worked on some things at shootaround, and the girls responded."
Olson and Weidemann led the Cowgirls with each hitting four 3-pointers in the win. The four 3-pointers for Olson are a new career-high for her as she tied a career-best with 16 points while Weidemann led the way for the Cowgirls with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting overall from the floor.
Bradshaw was just a rebound shy of her first career double-double on the night as she scored 15 points off the bench while also adding a steal and three assists. Sanchez Ramos chipped in with six rebounds and tied a season-high with four assists while Ellis had six points, three boards and two assists in the win.
The Cowgirls will now face sixth-seeded Boise State in the semifinals Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m., Mountain Time. It will mark the third-straight meeting at the tournament between UW and the Broncos.
* University of Wyoming press release
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