Wyoming Holds Off Boise State Rally, Advances to Semis
LAS VEGAS - Despite a tough afternoon shooting the basketball, fifth-seeded Wyoming was able to battle its way past No. 4 Boise State 61-56 in a 2014 Reese's Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship quarterfinal match-up at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Cowgirls (20-10) will face top-seeded Colorado State (24-6) in the first game of Friday's semifinal round. The Rams advanced to the semis earlier in the day with a 72-67 victory over No. 8 Utah State (15-16). The Broncos finish the 2013-14 season with a 17-13 record.
"One of the things I mentioned at the start of the game is that you need to give this group (of fans) something to cheer for," said Wyoming head coach Joe Legerski. "Wyoming fans are great supporters of this program and just to hear that roar during introductions, I think it really energized this team and I think it definitely helps having that kind of energy and makes my team play harder."
In the first half, Wyoming converted just eight of 34 field goal attempts, yet still entered halftime with a one-point advantage at 25-24. Behind the steady play of sophomore guard Marquelle Dent, who recorded her third-career 20-point game, the Cowgirls were able to break down the Broncos' defense in the second half and made 40 percent of its field goal attempts (12-of-30).
Where the Cowgirls owned a big advantage was the glass, hauling down 16 offensive rebounds and a total of 45 boards, which equaled the MW Championship quarterfinal record. Wyoming also converted 16-of-20 attempts from the free-throw line, compared to just 5-of-7 for Boise State.
Wyoming grabbed a 10-point lead with four minutes to play on a 3-pointer by junior guard Kaitlyn Mileto. Boise State, though, stormed back with an 8-0 run to draw within two at 58-56 with under a minute to play, but were unable to pull any closer.
"Give Boise State credit, they came at us in the last three minutes," Legerski said.
In addition to Dent's 23 points, junior forward Kayla Woodward also reached double figures for the Cowgirls with 10 points. Senior guard Fallon Lewis chipped in with nine points and a team-best 10 rebounds.
"It's definitely a mindset to be more aggressive and when we do that, it opens up more shots for myself and my teammates," Dent said. "So, that's really been something we've focused on the last few games."
For the Broncos, junior guard/forward Deanna Weaver led the way with 17 points. Sophomore center Miquelle Askew (12 points) and sophomore guard/forward Kayla Reinhart (10 points) also reached double figures.
"We will have everyone back next year," Weaver said. "We had a lot of freshman and underclassmen this year. I think we'll be able to make a lot of improvements and next year will be a really good year."