Second half defense leads Cowgirls over Aggies

Sphomore Coreen Labish pushes the ball past two Utah state competitors. Wyoming beat Utah State 59-40 on Saturday. (Photo by Katy Grogan)

The Cowgirls basketball team took down a red-hot Utah State Aggies team 59-40 last Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Aggies entered Laramie last weekend on a four game winning streak.

It was a tale of two halves for the Cowgirls who entered half time with a mere 30-25 lead.

“I don’t think the final score indicates how difficult of a match up that was. Their length really affected us and we didn’t shoot the ball well from three,” head coach Joe Legerski said.

The Cowgirls struggled to score points from the 3-point line in the first half, going 0-4 to start the game. However, the team shot 6-14 (42.9%) and managed to out-rebound the Aggies 13-5 after two quarters of play. It was the Cowgirls defense that made the difference in the first half, holding the Aggies shooting 3-14 from the field.

The second half was a different story for UW. A couple big free throws by guard Liv Roberts and strong rebounding from forward Bailee Cotton got the Cowgirls off to a nice lead and 7-0 run with five minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

“They were really long and hard to pass over, it’s hard for me to get inside against a girl who is 6’2”,” Roberts said. “But we just needed to hit a few (shots) to break the ice.”

That is exactly what guard Taylor Rusk did. With 1:12 left in the third quarter, Rusk hit the Cowgirls first 3-Pointer of the game and extended UW’s lead to 10. Rusk then hit another from downtown 2 minutes into the fourth.

“Taylor Rusk hitting two three’s was really big, but more importantly Liv was open and passed it to Taylor for her second three,” Legerski said. “That’s a smart play to make when someone has just made a three.”

Even when the ball isn’t going in, Rusk’s attitude doesn’t change.

“Coach tells us we have to shoot it when we’re open,” Rusk said. “You just got to keep taking shots and they will fall eventually, which they did.”

The Cowgirls excelled at the free throw line, making 18 of 20 attempts and finished the game 19-48 (39.6%) from the field. It was a tough night shooting for UW, but it was defense that helped the Cowgirls in their victory.

“We’ve really focused on defending in practice and I think their 40 points show that,” Roberts said.

Coach Legerski added to this saying, “For us to give up 15 total points in the second half was a mark of how well we played. Beating a team that is as hot as them was a big step for this group.”

The Cowgirls win brings them to 18-6 overall and 10-3 in Mountain West play. They head to Fort Collins on Wednesday to take on rival Colorado State in Moby Arena.



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