(Editor’s note: University of Wyoming media release)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 7, 2018) – The Wyoming basketball team (21-10 overall, 13-5 MW) had its 2018 Mountain West conference championship bid ended with a 67-63 loss against the Nevada Wolf Pack (17-15 overall, 7-11 MW) on Wednesday night.
“I thought tonight’s game was very similar to all the games we’ve had with Nevada,” head coach Joe Legerski said. “They’ve come down to one possession and the teams are matched very closely. Tonight Nevada made an extra play that we were not able to make and give them credit. I thought we got off to a good start. They stepped up defensively and I thought that kind of got us out of our rhythm. We started trying too hard to make things happen rather than just let the game come to us and I thought Nevada was able to do that. They kept the second half at about four to six points most of the game and felt like we never could cut into the lead and we had our opportunities at the end and we came up short. But there’s so much of this season that this team and the two young women (Liv Roberts and Taylor Rusk) next to me have made play after play to get us in this opportunity. I know last week we were playing for a conference championship and it came down to the last possession. Tonight came down to the last possession. When I look back through all the games we won on a last possession, sometimes it seems like it kind of evens out. But Nevada is on a roll and give them tremendous credit for what they were able to get accomplished not only tonight but for the last couple of weeks. I think it’s the mark of a good team that keeps improving and they’ve put themselves in a position and they have tremendous senior leadership and it showed tonight.”
Sophomore Taylor Rusk led the way for Wyoming with a team-high 15 points while shooting 7-12 from the field in 38 minutes of play. Junior Marta Gomez followed with 13 points off the bench, while senior Liv Roberts had nine points and a game-high eight rebounds. The Cowgirls shot 23-of-49 (.469) from the field and 13-of-14 (.929) from the charity stripe. UW out rebounded Nevada 33-20 and had 25 bench points.
The Wolf Pack were led by seniors T Moe and Teige Zeller with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Sophomore Camariah King chipped in 11 points off the bench. Nevada was 25-of-52 (.481) from the field.
The Cowgirls started off straight by scoring the first seven points with five coming from Rusk. Cephas got Nevada in the scoring column with 6:12 on the clock and started an 11-0 run to give the Wolf Pack an 11-7 advantage. Wyoming went over six minutes without scoring until a bucket towards the end of the quarter. Nevada notched the next four straight to pull ahead by six, 15-9. A three by Gomez cut it back down to three, 15-12, but the Wolf Pack scored five of the next seven to make it 20-14. The Cowgirls responded with eight unanswered to regain a two-point advantage, 22-20. Unfortunately, Nevada came right back with an 8-0 run to pull back ahead by six, 28-22. UW hit free throws late, but still went in to the locker room down 28-24.
Rusk led all scorers in the first half with nine points. Gomez followed with six points while Roberts brought down four boards. UW shot 9-of-24 (.375) from the field and 3-of-7 (.429) from three. Nevada was led by King with eight points off the bench, while Zeller chipped in six. The Wolf Pack shot an impressive 12-of-26 (.462) from the field.
The two teams traded scores early in the third quarter until a 5-1 run by the Cowgirls closed the gap to two, 36-34. Nevada recorded a basket and a pair of free throws to regain a six-point advantage, 40-34. Following the media timeout, UW hit back to back shots to again pull within two, 40-38, but Nevada scored the next six to make it an eight point contest, 46-38. Wyoming tried to chip away at the deficit scoring six of eight to make it a four-point game, 48-44, early in the fourth quarter. The Wolf Pack had an answer every time down the court and responded with a 9-4 run to increase it to a nine-point lead, 57-48, with 5:27 on the clock. The Cowgirls battled back with an 8-2 run to make it a one possession game, 59-56, but a huge three by King seemed to put a damper the Cowgirls chances. UW made another push with a 7-2 run, capped off by a three-point play by Gomez to close it to one, 64-63 with under a minute to play. On the next possession, Nevada had to take a quick shot and the Cowgirls seemed to gain the ball back but it was quickly turned over. Wyoming was forced to foul and the Wolf Pack hit enough free throws to hold on for the 67-63 win.