(UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Cowgirls (14-5, 7-3 MW) host Utah State Wednesday in a game that will tip-off at 6:30 p.m. (MT). The Cowgirls are winners of five straight, while the Aggies have dropped five in a row. The Aggies won the earlier meeting this season, a 50-42 defensive battle in Logan, Utah.
The game will be broadcast live on the Mountain West Network and on Stadium, and can be heard across the 25 stations of the Cowgirl Radio Network with Reece Monaco on play-by-play and Wyoming Hall of Famer Margie McDonald with color commentary.
The Cowgirls are 14-5 this season and 7-3 in the Mountain West coming off a 60-49 “Border War” win over Colorado State on the road. The Cowgirls are led offensively by senior forward Marta Gomez who averages 15.5 points per game while adding 4.5 rebounds per contest. Senior forward Bailee Cotton averages nearly a double-double with 11.4 points per contest and pulling down a team best 8.9 rebounds per game. Cotton has also taken a team-leading 14 charges this season. Junior Taylor Rusk is scoring 10.4 points per contest while adding 66 assists and only 19 turnovers, the fifth best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country. Freshman guard Karla Erjavec leads the team in the assist department with 73 on the year. Defensively, Erjavec has recorded 24 steals this season, while Cotton has 18 blocks.
Offensively, the Cowgirls are shooting at a 47.1 percent (505-of-1,073) clip from the field while shooting 41.9 percent (155-of-370) from three and 73.8 percent (194-of-263) from the free throw line to average 71.5 points per game. The Cowgirls average 16.5 assists and just 11.6 turnovers per game. Opponents are shooting 41.8 percent (431-of-1,030) from the field, 34.0 percent (98-of-288) from three and 70.7 percent (162-of-229) from the free throw line to average 59.1 points per game. Cowgirl foes average 9.8 assists and 14.8 turnovers per game.
Head coach Joe Legerski is in his 16th year at the helm of the Cowgirls, and he has compiled a 303-182 record as Wyoming’s head coach. He is the winningest coach in program history.
The Aggies are 10-12 overall this season with a 5-6 record in Mountain West play having lost five straight games. Utah State is led by Shannon Dufficy, who averages 16.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals to lead USU in each of those categories. Hailey Bassett adds 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while Olivia West scores 8.3 points and averages 1.8 assists per contest. Deja Mason patrols the paint, averaging 1.5 blocks per contest, while Eliza West directs the offense by averaging 5.1 assists per game.
Offensively, the Aggies shoot 40.1 percent (532-of-1,328) from the field, 30.9 percent (119-of-385) from three and 69.1 percent (188-of-272) from the free throw line to average 62.3 points per game. The Aggies average 15.7 assists and 15.4 turnovers per contest. Opponents are shooting 38.0 percent (460-of-1,209) from the field, 30.5 percent (126-of-413) from three and 72.4 percent (270-of-373) from the free throw line to average 59.8 points per game. Aggie foes average 11.0 assists and 16.3 turnovers per contest.
Head coach Jerry Finkbeiner is 89-120 in seven seasons at the helm of the Aggies, and owns a 563-362 record in 30 years as a Division I head coach.
The Cowgirls own the series lead over the Aggies, 20-9, and have won six of the last eight matchups against Utah State. Wyoming has won the last three games in Laramie, and is 10-4 against the Aggies all time here at 7,220 feet. The Aggies won the first matchup of the season in Logan, 42-50, in a defensive battle.
The Cowgirls will hit the road to face Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 16. Tip-off from Lawlor Events Center is scheduled for 3 p.m. (MT).
Wyoming’s men head to Utah State Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. for a showdown with the second place Aggies. The game will feature the two top scorers in the Mountain West in Wyoming’s Justin James and Utah State’s Sam Merrill.
Fans can watch, listen and follow love stats on GoWyo.com. The game will be broadcast live on radio over the 25 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network, as Dave Walsh and Kevin McKinney will call the action.
Wyoming heads into the contest with a 6-17 overall record and a 2-8 mark in the MW. The Pokes earned a wire-to-wire victory on Saturday against Colorado State downing the Rams 74-66. Wyoming shot a season-high 54 percent from behind the arc.
Wyoming has hit 28 three-pointers over the last two games connecting on 46 percent of their attempts. Wyoming has also scored 70 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in conference play. The Pokes have been effective from the field shooting 47 percent over the last four games.
The Aggies are tied for second in the MW with Fresno State at 8-3 in conference play. The Aggies are an impressive 18-6 overall and have won seven of their last eight games. Utah State fell at San Diego State by a score of 68-63 on Saturday.
Utah State is one of the nation’s top rebounding teams. The Aggies average 40.2 per game to lead the MW and rank No. 18 in the nation. USU has a +9.2 rebound margin that ranks fifth in the nation. The Aggies share the basketball at a high rate averaging 17.3 helpers per game to lead the MW and rank No. 11 in the nation.
Wyoming is led in scoring, rebounding and assists by senior guard Justin James. He leads the MW in scoring at 20.7 points per game, which ranks No. 35 in the nation. He grabs 8.6 rebounds per game for fifth in the MW and adds 4.5 assists per game for fifth in the league. He averaged 29 points and added seven rebounds and eight assists per game last week, which included a career-high 36 against Colorado State.
Junior Jake Hendricks, a native of nearby Smithfield, Utah adds 11.7 points per game. He has hit nine three pointers in his two games since returning to the Cowboy lineup. He is shooting 43 percent from behind the arc for the season. Redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson adds 10.9 points per game shooting 46 percent from the three-point line.
The Aggies are led in scoring by Merrill at 20 points per game to rank second in the MW and No. 44 in the nation. He leads the MW in total field goals made with 155. He is shooting 48 percent from the field to rank seventh in the MW. Neemias Queta adds 10.9 points per game and 9.2 rebounds. He ranks fourth in the MW in rebounding. He leads the conference and ranks No. 11 in the nation averaging 2.6 blocks per game.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series against the Aggies 51-28 and are 17-19 in Logan. The Aggies took the first meeting this season in Laramie on Jan. 12, 71-55. The Cowboys opened the contest holding one of the Mountain West’s top shooting teams to 25 percent from the field, but a late first half surge lifted Utah State past Wyoming.
Wyoming returns home for a Saturday evening contest at 8 p.m. against No. 6/7 Nevada in a contest airing on ESPNU.