• Barnes ties a career-high with five made 3-pointers as UW moves to 4-0 in MW play for the first time since 2016-17.
The Wyoming Cowgirls outscored San Diego State 21-7 in the fourth quarter and opened the final frame on a 17-2 run as they ran away from the Aztecs late, 72-55. UW improved to 4-0 to start Mountain West play, the first time since 2016-17 the Cowgirls have started league action 4-0.
Wyoming led the game for 36 minutes, but couldn’t put away SDSU (11-6, 2-2 MW) until the fourth quarter. Each time the Cowgirls would push the lead up, the Aztecs would answer right back. San Diego State’s lone lead was at 5-4 early in the contest.
“Through the first three quarters, they weren’t going away,” said Head Coach Heather Ezell postgame.
“We needed to get back to what we hang our hat on, getting stops on the defensive end. I told them, our best offense right now is to get stops, so that we can push the ball up and get into our motion and once we started doing that, things got a lot easier.”
The Cowgirls (9-6, 4-0 MW) got the first two layups of the contest, as they came out of the gate playing great defense. However, the offense sputtered a bit, and the score was tied 7-7 at the first quarter media timeout. After the timeout, Wyoming got the first five points and seven of the next nine before SDSU countered a bit. A Maren McKenna putback before time expired in the frame gave UW an 18-14 lead after one.
In the second, McKenna opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and the Cowgirls had their biggest lead of the game up to that point, 21-14. The Aztecs’ strong shooting from the outside continued though as they would go on an 7-0 run to tie things up. The two teams would start trading hoops from there, as a Tess Barnes 3-pointer forced a San Diego State timeout with 6:15 left in the half, with the Cowgirls up 26-23. Out of the timeout, Wyoming built the lead back up to seven before SDSU again answered back to make it 30-26. UW would have an answer right back though, taking a 37-28 lead with 1:09 left as the Aztecs took another timeout. An Emily Mellema mid-range jumper extended the Cowgirl advantage to 11 points, 39-28, which was the score at halftime.
SDSU came out in the third quarter and got the first hoop before Mellema’s second three of the game gave UW a 42-30 lead. The Aztecs would continue to hit tough shots though and went on a big run, cutting the deficit down to just 42-40 before a Marta Savic layup ended the Wyoming drought. Following the third quarter media, the Cowgirls went back on a bit of a run of their own, pushing the lead back up to 49-42. From there, San Diego State would again have an answer to end the third, as Wyoming clung to a 51-48 lead going to the fourth.
The fourth began with Barnes’ third 3-pointer followed by layups from Malene Pedersen and Allyson Fertig as the Cowgirls went up 58-48 with seven minutes to play. After a Wyoming timeout, another Fertig hoop was followed up by another Barnes 3-pointer and the Cowgirls were up 63-50 with under five left. Another Fertig basket preceded the final media timeout of the game, with UW up 65-50. Barnes’ career-high fifth 3-pointer gave the Brown & Gold a 20-point advantage and after the Aztecs answered with a 3-pointer of their own, SDSU called a timeout with 1:58 to go. The last two minutes of the game were handled by the Cowgirls as they moved to 4-0 in league play.
Barnes finished the game with 17 points as she tied her career-best with those five 3-pointers. As a team, the Cowgirls made a season-high 10 from beyond-the-arc. Barnes also finished with a career-high nine rebounds and tied her career-high with four blocked shots in the win.
“I know (Barnes) scored 17 points on the offensive end, but it comes down to, she guarded tonight. We needed each time she was able to get a stop on the defensive end of the court.”
Fertig closed the night with her fifth double-double of the season and the 24th of her career as she finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Fertig also tied a season-best with three assists in the win and recorded two blocks and a steal defensively. Mellema also finished in double figures as she had 12 points, also on 5-of-7 from the floor and tallied a pair of assists and two blocks of her own. UW had a season-high eight blocks on the night.
The Cowgirls shot 52.5-percent (31-59) and hit 34.5-percent of their shots from deep. SDSU shot 21-for-55 (38.2-percent) and went just 2-for-12 in the fourth quarter. The Aztecs hit 5-of-13 from three and went 8-of-11 at the free-throw line. Amazingly, UW didn’t attempt a free throw on the night.
Wyoming took care of the ball in the win, recording just seven turnovers. The Aztecs had just nine turnovers, but the Cowgirls capitalized on those mistakes, outscoring San Diego State 20-5 in points off turnovers. Wyoming held a 38-24 advantage in points in the paint and edged out the Aztecs 8-5 in second-chance points. The UW bench had 25 points on the night and was led by solid efforts from McKenna, who had nine and Savic, who finished with eight on a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor.
The Cowgirls now have their “bye” weekend and will return to action next Wednesday, January 17 with a trip to New Mexico.