Cowgirls Enjoy 64-28 Exhibition Win vs. Western Colorado
LARAMIE — Defense has been a critical part of the Cowgirls basketball team in the Joe Legerski era.
Initial indication is that isn’t about to change this season.
It was just an exhibition game against Division II Western Colorado on Friday night at the the Double-A, but the Cowgirls made a statement with a 64-28 victory in which they forced 20 turnovers and held the Mountaineers to eight field goals.
“We pride ourselves on being able to play team defense,” head coach Legerski said. “When you make it difficult, make people score through you and don’t give up anything easy, then all of a sudden, I think they start rushing shots. There were plenty of shots that were open, but we did a good job early to get the pace where we wanted to, and to say we’re going to be here to challenge every shot you take.”
The Mountaineers shot 15.4 percent (8-of-52) from the field and only 7.1 percent (1-of-14) from three-point range. On the other hand, the Cowgirls were an efficient 50.0 percent (27-of-54) from the field while shooting 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from three.
Freshman Tereza Vitulova led the way for the Cowgirls with a double-double in her first collegiate game a she scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds. Senior Bailee Cotton joined Vitulova in double-figure scoring with 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. The Cowgirls needed her scoring early while the rest of the team settled in to the game.
“We’re always looking to who’s going to step up next, and I thought Bailee did that” Legerski said. “Whenever you have a player being able to step up and make some easy shots for you, it relaxes the group. I thought Bailee did exactly that. That’s the senior leadership.”
Senior Rachelle Tucker chipped in eight points, five rebounds and a team-leading four steals. Clara Tapia effortlessly directed the Cowgirl offense and dished out five assists with zero turnovers in just 21 minutes of action.
“It was a good start to the season,” Legerski said. “You never know when you graduate seniors and you have people in new roles, how they’re going to play. We have a number of freshman, and they played very well tonight. It’s a good sign for us. I was happy with the way we started. The veteran players with Clara (Tapia), Taylor (Rusk) and Bailee (Cotton) really set the tone tonight early. I thought that was important. You could see the nerves with the freshmen when they came in, and then the second time they came through, they played a little more relaxed. I was happy to see how Tereza (Vitulova) played. To get a double-double her first night out, she played extremely well.”
Clara Tapia opened the game’s scoring with a driving layup, then fed Bailee Cotton for a fast-break layup following a Taylor Rusk steal. The Cowgirls set the defensive tone early forcing two turnovers and two missed shots in the Mountaineers opening possessions. The Cowgirls extended their lead to 14-4 after a Vitulova hook shot down low. Then, freshman Quinn Weidemann hit a corner three, senior Sladjana Rakovic drew a charge and Rusk hit another trey to make the first quarter score 20-4 for the Cowgirls.
Weidemann started the scoring for the Cowgirls in the second quarter with three ball assisted by Rusk, and after forcing another defensive stop, Vitulova scored in the paint to give the Brown and Gold a 17-point lead, 25-8. Cotton reached double-figure scoring following a two-for-two trip at the free throw line. Then, Weidemann drove to the basket for two, forcing a Western Colorado timeout with the Cowgirls leading 31-10. Senior Tijana Raca swished a three-ball to end the half, giving the Cowgirls a 38-10 lead heading into the locker room on the strength of an 11-0 run. The Mountaineers were held without a point in the final 6:25 of the half.
The Cowgirls started the second half just how they finished the first, scoring on their first two possessions and forcing two turnovers. The Mountaineers scored their first points in over 10 minutes with a pair of free throws leading into the media timeout. The scoring slowed down midway through the quarter, but Rakovic collected a Vitulova miss and scored a layup to put the Cowgirls up 47-12 with under three minutes left in the frame. The teams traded a pair of baskets and ended the quarter with the Cowgirls leading 49-15.
Vitulova scored the first four points of the fourth quarter with an elbow jumper followed by a reverse layup along the baseline to put her into double-digit scoring. The Mountaineers converted their first field goal in over a quarter, but Freshman Tommi Olson answered with a three-pointer from the left wing to bring the score to 58-18. Vitulova secured a double-double with her 10th rebound off a missed Mountaineer free throw. Both teams traded a few more baskets down the stretch, and the Cowgirls claimed the 64-28 victory.
The season officially begins on Wednesday, Nov. 7, when the Cowgirls host Chadron State in the Arena-Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.s.
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|Technical fouls 0|