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Cowgirls can’t hold off UNLV, fall in overtime slugfest

UW was up eight with just over three minutes to play

Feb 21, 2024; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowgirls center Allyson Fertig (45) against the UNLV Lady Rebels during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. (Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Cowgirls led for over 37 minutes of regulation but couldn’t hold off UNLV at the end of regulation or get over the hump in overtime, as they dropped an overtime, defensive slugfest 63–60 Wednesday night.

“We had an eight-point lead with three and a half minutes to go and then, unfortunately, let them claw back into it,” said Heather Ezell postgame.

“We couldn’t knock down shots when we really needed them. We needed somebody to make that big shot and, had some great looks, just unfortunately didn’t get one to go.”

The two teams spent the beginning of the game feeling one another out. Emily Mellema had a pair of early 3-pointers and the Cowgirls led 8–3 at the first-quarter media timeout. After the timeout, UW pushed ahead 10–5 before the Lady Rebels responded to tie things up before another Wyoming 3-pointer reclaimed the lead. The Cowgirls led 15–12 after one.

Feb 21, 2024; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowgirls forward Tess Barnes (5) against the UNLV Lady Rebels during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. (Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics)

Things started in the second quarter the way they did in the first, with not a lot of scoring either way. UW held onto a 17–16 lead at the media timeout. UNLV took its first lead of the game following the timeout, but that was quickly erased after McKinley Dickerson’s second 3-pointer. The two teams started trading baskets back-and-forth from there. The Cowgirls led 26–24 at the half.

The offenses came out strong to begin the second half before the defenses once again stepped up. After Wyoming built up a 33–28 lead, the two squads exchanged hoops and the Cowgirls led 38–31 with a little over two minutes to play in the quarter as the Lady Rebels called a timeout. The rest of the third saw a bit of offensive action as UW led 41–35 after three.

After an Allyson Fertig layup opened the scoring in the fourth, the scoring went back-and-forth between the two teams. UNLV hit a 3-pointer with 6:28 left to cut the deficit to 47–43 and called a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Lady Rebels cut it to two before back-to-back-to-back layups from the Cowgirls. From there, UNLV trimmed the deficit to 53–49 with 2:14 left as UW called a timeout. Following the timeout, it was all Lady Rebels, as they got the next two baskets to force overtime at 53–53.

Feb 21, 2024; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowgirls guard Emily Mellema (2) against the UNLV Lady Rebelsat Arena-Auditorium. The Cowgirls lost in OT 63–60. (Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics)

Overtime was controlled by UNLV as they opened with the first five points. The Lady Rebels banked in a 3-pointer, which was followed by a Wyoming three that rattled half-way down and out. The Cowgirl offense sputtered down the stretch, and UW shot just 2-for-9 in the extra frame. A Dickerson 3-pointer cut it to just two points with a little over two minutes left, but UNLV wouldn’t let it get any closer. Mellema’s putback with 30 seconds left also got it to within two before a pair at the line from the Lady Rebels. Wyoming got a couple of free throws next time down the floor and then, after a UNLV miss late, Mellema’s desperation heave from 35 feet just missed as UNLV escaped with the win.

Dickerson and Mellema paced the Cowgirls with 14 points each. Fertig recorded her seventh double-double of the season, as she closed with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Tess Barnes led all players with five assists in the loss while Mellema and Malene Pedersen had three each. Wyoming had 18 assists for the game while UNLV tallied just four.

Feb 21, 2024; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowgirls guard McKinley Dickerson (42) against the UNLV Lady Rebelsat Arena-Auditorium. The Cowgirls lost in OT 63–60. (Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics)

Despite getting out-rebounded 48–37, the Cowgirls were only outscored 9–8 in second-chance points. UNLV also had a slight edge in the paint, 36–34. UW had a 9–4 advantage in points off turnovers, forcing the Lady Rebels into 14 turnovers. UNLV’s bench outscored the Cowgirls 31–16.

UW finished the night shooting 25-of-68 (36.8) from the field and went 7-for-30 from 3-point range, including just 1-of-13 in the fourth quarter and overtime. UNLV ended 23-of-62 (37.1%) and made just 4-of-19 from beyond-the-arc. The Lady Rebels made 10 more free throws on the night.

The Cowgirls now look to rebound at home Saturday as New Mexico comes to the Arena-Auditorium for a 2 p.m. contest.

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