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Cowgirls thrash South Dakota in 32-point win

UW Cowgirl Ola Ustowska takes a 3-pointer in Friday's win over South Dakota. (via Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball X)

LARAMIE, Wyo. — The University of Wyoming Cowgirls live to play another day, as they easily handled the South Dakota Coyotes 84–52 on Friday in the Super 16 round of the Women’s NIT.

“Credit to our team tonight,” Head Coach Heather Ezell said. “They really competed, and they stuck with what was working, which was going inside. The crowd was great tonight, the atmosphere was awesome. We’ve got the best fans in the country and I hope we can see them all again Monday night.”

Though the game would quickly become a runaway for UW, the early goings were fairly evenly matched. Through the game’s opening minutes, the Cowgirls and Coyotes traded baskets. However, Wyoming began pulling away as the quarter wore on, and with about two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, a 3-pointer from Emily Mellema pushed the score to 20–11. It was the largest lead of the game thus far, and forced South Dakota to call a timeout.

The Cowgirls grew their lead to 14 in the opening moments of the second period, when a Marta Savic hook shot from low in the paint and a pair of buckets by McKinley Dickerson put them up 37–23.

The team didn’t slow down as the quarter wore on, either. The Cowgirls ended the first half on a 9–0 run and carried a 41–23 lead into the halftime locker room.

Allyson Fertig extended the lead to 20 for the first time with a post score to kick off the third quarter.

South Dakota briefly cut into the lead and brought the game to within 16, as the Coyotes were able to get to the free throw line with some success in the third quarter. However, a balanced Wyoming attack quelled USD’s comeback efforts each time.

Despite South Dakota’s best efforts, it was still outscored in the frame, and the two teams entered the fourth quarter with UW leading 63–40.

The Cowgirls didn’t let up for much of the final quarter. Midway through the quarter, the lead had grown to 41 points.

Wyoming had five players score in double figures. Fertig led the way with 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting. She also recorded her fifth double-double in the last six games, pulling down 11 boards in the victory.

Mellema and Malene Pedersen were the other starters in double figures, scoring 11 and 10, respectively. Off the bench, Marta Savic led UW reserves with 14 points, five rebounds and two assists on 6-of-7 shooting. Dickerson had 12 in the win, too. Mellema and Madi Symons led the Cowgirls with four assists each.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to work through Allyson and Marta tonight,” Ezell said. “At first, they didn’t bring the double and Al was able to make easy work of that. What we really emphasized to Al and Marta was, ‘Get to your spot. If you make a quick move, they can’t bring a double.'”

Up next, Wyoming will host Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 1. Tickets for Monday’s contest go on sale at the UW Ticket Office at 10 a.m. Saturday.