MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Wyoming Cowgirls fought to the bitter end on Tuesday, but their season ultimately came to an end at the hands of Kansas State in the second round of the Women’s NIT, falling 71-55.
The Cowgirls opened with the first five points of the game before Kansas State countered with a big answer, scoring the next 13 points. After that, the two teams exchanged free throws before an Emily Mellema 3-pointer got the Cowgirls to within three, 15-12. The Wildcats quickly extended their lead before the end of the frame, however, and held a 22-12 lead after one.
KSU continued to control the game on both ends of the court in the second quarter, opening the frame with a 9-0 run before an Allyson Fertig 3-pointer ended the UW scoring drought. Another Mellema three got Wyoming to within 13, but the Cowgirl offense continued to sputter later in the quarter, despite some good looks.
At halftime, Kansas State held a commanding 36-20 lead.
In the third quarter, Wyoming struggled to get the offense going in the beginning of the frame, but back-to-back layups helped the team find its footing. The two teams then traded baskets for much of the quarter, but the Cowgirls were unable to seriously cut into the Wildcats’ lead. Mellema helped keep UW within striking distance by hitting her fourth 3-pointer of the game late in the quarter to bring the score to 49-36, and Kansas State led 51-37 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Wildcats extended the lead up to as many as 17 and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way. Wyoming got to within 11 three times in the period, first on a Tommi Olson 3-pointer, then on a layup by Malene Pedersen, and finally with a transition layup from Mellema with two minutes left, but that was as close as things would get.
Mellema, a sophomore, scored a career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting while also making a career-best four 3-pointers. Pedersen scored 15 while Fertig had nine points, a team-best seven rebounds and three blocks. Ola Ustowska and Quinn Weidemann each contributed with three assists apiece.
It was the final game in the careers of Olson and Weidemann, the team’s two senior leaders. Weidemann, who’s played more games than any Cowgirl in program history, closed her career with 1,461 points, 12th-most all-time, and is third in the school’s record books with 251 3-pointers. Olson, meanwhile, is third all-time in games played in the brown and gold, and finished her career seventh in both career assists and steals in UW history.