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20 second-chance points help Cowgirls top Utah State

Feb 7, 2024; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowgirls forward Tess Barnes (5) against the Utah State Aggies during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. (Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Cowgirls earned a 62–47 victory over Utah State on Wednesday night at home. It wasn’t the prettiest offensive performance from the Cowgirls, but 21 points off 17 Aggie turnovers and 20 second-chance points helped UW along the way.

After a bit of a slow start offensively, the Cowgirls (14–8, 9–2 MW) started to find their rhythm and took a 9–2 lead into the first quarter media timeout. Following the timeout, USU cut it down to just a two-point UW lead before the Cowgirls got three straight buckets right back. Wyoming led 16–7 after one as Emily Mellema’s midrange jumper beat the buzzer.

Utah State opened the scoring in the second with a free throw before UW built the lead back up to 19–8. After that, back-to-back layups from Allyson Fertig pushed the advantage to 23–10. Wyoming got another layup, this time off a dish from Fertig to Malene Pedersen, forcing an Aggie timeout with 5:41 left in the half. UW got the lead up to as many as 16 in the first half and kept the lead at 33–18 going into the half.

Things remained relatively unchanged through the first part of the third, as the Cowgirls had a 38–23 lead at the media. USU cut the Wyoming lead down to just 10 as the Cowgirls were sluggish out of the break. A couple of UW 3-pointers and a trio of Marta Savic free throws brought the Cowgirl lead back up to 15, 48–33, going to the fourth.

The Aggies called a timeout with 7:13 left in the contest after a Pedersen layup made it 53–35 in favor of the Cowgirls. A Fertig 3-point play with a little over five minutes left gave Wyoming a 21-point lead. From there, the lead was extended even further, to as many as 24. Utah State would score the final nine points to make the final appear closer than it was as UW emptied the bench late.

“We got a little out of rhythm at times, but we played at the pace that we wanted to for the most part,” Head Coach Heather Ezell said postgame.

“The big thing I said to the team was, ‘We kept our composure and focus.’”

Fertig led a pair of Cowgirls in double figures with 13 points on the night. She also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and defensively recorded a steal and two blocks. Pedersen closed with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Mellema scored nine points, and along with McKinley Dickerson, led Wyoming with four assists.

The Cowgirls’ bench scored 19 points in the win and was led by Maren McKenna’s nine. Marta Savic provided seven points, six boards, a block and an assist against the Aggies. USU reserves scored eight points on the night.

Besides its big advantage on turnovers and second-chance points, the Cowgirls were plus-nine on the boards Wednesday. UW also held a 28–20 advantage in points in the paint and held USU to just four assists. Wyoming made 10 free throws in the game while the Aggies hit 11.

Wyoming closes the week on the road Saturday at Boise State. The Cowgirls will be looking for the season sweep of the Broncos and will be in search of their fourth win all-time at ExtraMile Arena.

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