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UW Cowgirls open season with convincing win over North Dakota

Wyoming's Allyson Fertig puts up a shot in the post in her team's season-opening victory on Monday. (via Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball X/Twitter)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team opened the 2023–24 season in convincing fashion Monday night, outscoring North Dakota 20–7 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 77–60 win.

The Cowgirls got off to a strong start offensively, hitting five of their first eight shots to take an early 11–3 lead, forcing a UND timeout just a few minutes into the first quarter. Out of the timeout, UW built the lead up to double digits a couple of times before the Fighting Hawks eventually cut the deficit down to just 19–14 by the end of the quarter.

In the second, North Dakota came roaring back and tied things at 21–21. After that, the Cowgirls responded with three consecutive baskets to reclaim the lead. Wyoming built up a 29–23 score, but the Fighting Hawks cut it to 31–30.

After that, though, the Cowgirls ended the half on a 7–2 run to take a 38–32 lead into the break.

The second half began with UND continuing to take and make tough shots as it cut the Wyoming lead down to 46–44. After a timeout, North Dakota tied the game up at 48–48 before a nice response came from the Cowgirls, with a 9–0 run pushing UW back in front.

The Fighting Hawks responded at the end of the third quarter, though, cutting the Wyoming advantage down to 57–53 heading into the fourth.

Wyoming came out strong in the fourth, opening the lead up to 67–56 only a few minutes into the quarter. From there, the Cowgirls would continue to keep North Dakota at bay, leading by as many as 17 late in the quarter.

UW held UND to just 1-of-10 shooting to close the game and 3-of-16 overall in the final 10 minutes.

Allyson Fertig picked up where she left off last season, tallying a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It is the 20th double-double of Fertig’s career, which is one away from moving her onto the all-time top-10 list in program history. Fertig shot 5-of-9 from the field and went a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line. She also recorded a pair of blocks in the win.

Kati Ollilainen had 14 points off the bench in her first career game for the brown and gold. Ollilainen shot 5-of-8 from the floor and made two of the Cowgirls’ three 3-pointers in the victory. Emily Mellema also finished the game in double figures with 10 points to go along with a trio of steals. Tess Barnes had nine points in the contest and notched a career-best seven assists.

UW also got strong contributions from reserves Malene Pedersen and Marta Savic. Pedersen had six points and four assists against UND, while Savic was a perfect 4-of-4 shooting in 14 minutes of action. McKinley Dickerson had eight points, two assists and a block.

The Cowgirls ended the night shooting roughly 48% from the floor, while UND shot a solid 41%. Wyoming finished the game a perfect 14-of-14 at the free-throw line.

Wyoming enjoyed a huge advantage inside, outscoring UND 48–18 in points in the paint. The Cowgirls also had a 7–1 edge in second-chance points. Cowgirl reserves ended up with 32 points on the night while North Dakota got just five from its bench.