Cowgirls Hoops Hosts Western Colorado in Friday Exhibition Game
From the desk of Sean O’Sullivan
The Cowgirls open the 2018-19 season by hosting Western Colorado in an exhibition game Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowgirls are coming off back-to-back 20+ win seasons and return three starters and nine letter winners from last season's team that went 13-5 in Mountain West Play.
The game will be broadcast live on the Mountain West Network, and can be heard across the 25 stations of the Cowgirl Radio Network with Reece Monaco on play-by-play and Wyoming Hall of Famer Margie McDonald with color commentary.
A LOOK AT THE COWGIRLS
Wyoming returns three starters from last year's team that put up a 22-11 record while going 13-5 in Mountain West play. The 13 conference wins ties a school record, while the Cowgirls put up back-to-back 20+ win seasons for the fifth time under head coach Joe Legerski.
Junior Taylor Rusk is the top returning scorer, as she averaged 10.1 points per game last season. Senior Marta Gomez scored 8.5 points per game off the bench, and was named the Mountain West's Sixth Player of the Year for the second season in a row. Senior Bailee Cotton led the way defensively for the Cowgirls, bringing down 6.2 rebounds per game and collecting 1.2 steals per game. For her efforts, she was named to the Mountain West's All-Defensive team. Senior Clara Tapia led the Mountain West with a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio and directed the Cowgirl offense by averaging 4.3 assists per game.
The Cowgirls shot .420 (710-of-1689) from the field, a Mountain West-leading .376 (236-of-628) from three-point range and a MW-leading .766 (374-of-488) from the free throw line to average 61.5 points per game. Defensively, UW held opponents to just 57.2 points per game on .398 (711-of-1787) shooting. The Cowgirls collected 33.4 rebounds per game and averaged 14.0 assists to 12.9 turnovers per game.
Head coach Joe Legerski is 289-177 overall at Wyoming and is entering his 16th year at the helm of the Cowgirls.
SCOUTING WESTERN COLORADO
The Western Colorado Mountaineers return their top four scorers from last season's 9-19 team that went 6-16 against Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponents. Katie Dalton, a sophomore forward, averaged 10.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, while Samantha Coleman, a sophomore guard, put up 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest a year ago.
Senior guard Tammarrah Gothard directed the Mountaineer offense, averaging a team-leading 2.9 assists per game while chipping in 7.2 points per contest. Sophomore guard/forward Jessie Erickson led the way on the glass for the Mountaineers in 2017-18, pulling down 5.5 rebounds per game.
As a team last season, the Mountaineers shot .378 (560-of-1481) from the field, including .286 (128-of-447) from three-point range. Western Colorado shot .700 (357-of-510) from the free throw line, as well, to average 57.3 points per game. The Mountaineers collected 36.0 rebounds per game, while averaging 11.5 assists to 19.4 turnovers per contest.
Head coach Lora Westling is in her third season at Western Colorado, and owns a 16-38 overall record at the helm of the Mountaineers.
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST WESTERN COLORADO
The Cowgirls and Mountaineers have squared off three times in regular season history, most recently during the 2014-15 season. In that game, Wyoming scored the ninth-most points in program history, winning 104-29. The 75-point margin of victory is also third-best in school history. Before that, the two teams faced each other in 2006 in a neutral-site game in Casper, Wyo., with the Brown and Gold earning a 69-56 victory. The series-opener came in 1981, and UW earned a 30-point win, topping the Mountaineers 94-64.
The Cowgirls officially open the 2018-19 season hosting Chadron State on Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m.