• Fertig leads all scorers with 21 points
For the second game in a row, the Wyoming Cowgirls were able to rally in the second half and fourth quarter to hang on for a 66-63 win over Air Force Wednesday inside the Arena-Auditorium. Wyoming shot 66.7-percent from the field in the second half while holding Air Force to 33-percent in the final 20 minutes.
Wyoming opened with the first four points of the game Wednesday before Air Force charged in front 7-6 at the first quarter media timeout. Out of the media, the two offenses began to click. However, the Falcons’ hot 3-point shooting, including a three to beat the buzzer, gave AFA a 20-16 lead after one. The Cowgirls had eight first quarter free throws.
The physical play continued in the second as UW continued going to the free-throw line and working the ball inside, while the Falcons continued to crash the offensive glass and hit outside shots. Wyoming led 29-27 at the media timeout. Following the timeout, a McKinley Dickerson three-point play pushed the advantage to five before AFA fought back to take a 39-34 lead at the half. Air Force, who was one of the poorer 3-point shooting teams in the league coming into the game, shot 6-of-11 from beyond-the-arc in the first half.
The second half opened where it left off for the Falcons, as they opened a 43-37 lead to open the frame. From there, the Cowgirls cut the deficit down to one, but Air Force answered again and extended the lead back to 45-42 at the media. After the media timeout, the two teams traded hoops before an Emily Mellema coast-to-coast layup off a steal tied things up at 47-47, forcing an AFA timeout with 2:46 left in the quarter. A Malene Pedersen layup gave UW a brief lead before a pair of Falcon free throws. Air Force again beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to end the third and took a 52-51 lead into the fourth.
The Falcons pushed their lead to 54-51 in the frame before back-to-back Cowgirl buckets made it 55-54. After that, the two teams started trading points back-and-forth as the lead was traded multiple times. A Cowgirl timeout with 4:36 came with Wyoming clinging to a 61-60 lead. After the timeout, UW took a three-point advantage but again, Air Force responded to tie it back up at 63 apiece. From there, Allyson Fertig got three-straight for the Cowgirls as they took a 66-63 with 44.5 left, forcing another Falcon timeout.
Following a Wyoming turnover, the Cowgirls managed to get three consecutive stops defensively in the same possession, as AFA continued to regain possession of the ball. The Cowgirls finally got the defensive stop for good after a shot clock violation with 1.2 seconds left. After an advancement by Wyoming and an inbound, it was all over as the Cowgirls hung on for dear life for the win.
“Credit to our team there at the end,” said Head Coach Heather Ezell after the game.
“They knew what the plan was there in the last 28 seconds. No threes, secure a rebound. We didn’t give them a look from three. We didn’t secure the first rebound, but we were able to guard and do it again.”
“We handled their pressure a little bit better in the second half and we were able to take advantage of Al’s (Allyson Fertig) height inside. We put in some tough positions at times, but she was able to handle it and got us some good looks.”
Fertig recorded a game-high 21 points while shooting 10-for-11 from the floor. It marks the third time this season that she has scored 20-or-more. 13 of her points on 6-of-7 shooting came in the fourth quarter. Pedersen also ended the game in double figures, scoring 15 points and going a perfect 11-for-11 at the free-throw line. As a team, the Cowgirls shot 19-for-22 at the stripe while the Falcons were 10-for-12.
Ola Ustowska set a career-best with seven assists on the night. Emily Mellema scored six points and tied a career-high with five steals. Dickerson led Cowgirl reserves with seven points off the bench.
Overall, Wyoming shot 53.7-percent (22-41) and made 3-of-11 from beyond-the-arc. Air Force ended up shooting 42.6-percent (23-54) overall and made 7-of-18 from 3-point range. The Falcons actually ended up with a 27-26 margin on the boards as both teams tallied eight second-chance points. UW finished with a 38-20 advantage in points in the paint while AFA had a 13-9 edge in points off turnovers.
Next up, the Cowgirls will play the first of two consecutive contests on the road. Wyoming heads west for a 2 p.m., Mountain Time tip against Fresno State Saturday.