Cowgirls Find Answer to Fresno; Holding MWC Top Seed

LARAMIE  – The Cowgirls basketball team made a strong statement on Saturday.

With a 74-57 win against Fresno State at the AA the Cowgirls claimed their ninth 20-win season in coach Joe Legerski’s 15 years in charge, equaled a school record with 13 wins and did it against a team that has been particularly troublesome for the Cowgirls over the years.

The Cowgirls found redemption against a team that they have beaten only twice in their last 10 games, and which beat them at Fresno 60-47 earlier this season.

And they maintained their status as the potential No. 1 seed for the MWC tournament with two games remaining – at Air Force on Tuesday and home against Boise State Friday. The Cowgirls and UNLV, which beat New Mexico on Saturday, are both 13-3 in conference play, but the Cowgirls have the tiebreaker for tournament seeding with a win against the Lady Rebels in the only game between the two this season.

The trapping defense Fresno State has played since former Legerski assistant Jamie White became their head coach five seasons ago has been particularly troublesome for the Cowgirls, whose 47 points against Fresno earlier in the month marked their fewest in an MWC game this year.

The Cowgirls, however, responded to the challenge on Saturday. Liv Roberts scored on a layup 54 seconds into the game to give the Cowgirls a 4-3 lead, and they never trailed after that. 

“The challenge against Fresno State is immense,” said Legerski. “The pressure they apply changed up the way they wanted to trap us, and we had to change offensively in order to have people in position to attack.

“At halftime, we shot 50 percent and they were 35 percent and we are only up seven. You start worrying that you’re shooting that well and can’t get some distance between you and your opponent. In the third quarter, we started making shots, attacked differently, made adjustments and went inside more. When you have 22 assists on 27 baskets, you are finding the open people.”

Junior Bailee Cotton recorded her four double-double of the season with a career-high 19 points. Sophomore Taylor Rusk also had 19 points, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field, including five of seven three-point attempts.

Senior Liv Roberts added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Wyoming shot 27-of-49 (.551) from the field and 7-of-15 (.467) from beyond the arc. 

“Taylor (Rusk) gave us a big lift today,” Legerski said. We were able to find her when we broke the pressure. The first time when we played Fresno State we were just happy to break the press. (Saturday) I thought we attacked. Bailee (Cotton) had a huge game for us. We really did a good job on the inside and got off to a good start. There are a number of players that continue to step up on both ends of the court.”

Tracy RingolsbyComment