LOGAN, Utah – The University of Wyoming women’s basketball team used a strong first half to put the game out of reach early, and took down the Utah State 65-54 on the road Wednesday night in Logan, Utah.
Cowgirls sophomore Tommi Olson made her first career start for and played a career-high 39 minutes. She set career highs of seven assists, eight rebounds and four points. Her rebounds and assists were both game highs, as well.
Olson started in place of sophomore Karla Erjavec, who did not make the trip because of an illness.
“What can you say, you had to be here to see it,” UW coach Gerald Mattinson said in a release. “Tommi (Olson) played excellently. She stepped right in, filled in admirably. She defended the way we wanted her to defend. She was all over the place.
“She’d be down guarding on the inside, then she’d be out guarding on the three-point line. She made a couple big steals and had some huge offensive rebounds for us at key times. Great job by (Olson), and I’m so proud of the way she stepped in and was able to respond.”
Cowgirls sophomore Tereza Vitulova scored a game-high 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting, reaching at least 20 points for the fifth time this season. It’s also the 15th time this season she has scored in double-figures. Vitulova added seven rebounds and a block.
The Cowgirls used a 9-0 run capped by a Vitulova layup to make it 12-4 with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Aggies scored six of the next eight points before Kepenc rolled in a layup to make it a 16-10 lead for UW en route to a 19-14 Cowgirls lead after one period.
Both teams had long scoring droughts in the second quarter. UW sophomore Tereza Vitulova ended the scoreless spell with a turnaround jumper, but the Aggies responded with a 7-0 run to pull within two points at 25-23. Freshman Jaeden Vaifanua ended the run with a pair of free throws, and Rusk scored a three to make it 30-23 at halftime.
The Aggies used an 8-0 run to tie it 36-36 in the third quarter. Sanchez Ramos ended the run with a 3-pointer to start an 8-0 Cowgirls run, and the Aggies made a free throw with 4 seconds left as the Cowgirls led 44-37 after three quarters.
Utah State struck first with a baseline jumper to start the fourth quarter, but Kepenc answered with a trey from in front of the Cowgirls’ bench. Utah State later converted a 3-pointer to make it 51-48 UW lead with 2:52 left, and Rusk answered with a layup off an assist from Olson.
Olson and senior Taylor Rusk then had two big steals and layups on back-to-back possessions for a 57-48 UW lead with 1:35 to play. The Aggies then fouled sophomore Quinn Weidemann, and she pushed the lead to double digits by making both free throws.
Rusk recorded the 300th assist of her career, becoming just the fifth Cowgirl to record both 1,000 points and 300 assists. She joins Marquelle Dent, Hanna Zavecz, Ashley Elliott and Christine Fairless in that exclusive club. Rusk had nine points, five rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.
Sophomore Alba Sanchez Ramos added 11 points for the Cowgirls (10-9 overall, 6-4 Mountain West), including a key 3-pointer late in the game. She added four rebounds, four assists and a steal.
UW shot 46.2% (24 of 52) from the field, 27.3% (6 of 22) from 3-point range and went a perfect 11 of 11 from the free-throw line. The Cowgirls had 17 assists and 13 turnovers.
Utah State (6-15, 1-9) shot 40.4% (21 of 52) from the field, 37.5% (3 of 8) from beyond the 3-point arc and 75% (9 of 12) from the free-throw line. The Aggies had 12 assists and 12 turnovers.
The Cowgirls will next host San Jose State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Arena-Auditorium.