LARAMIE – A slow start and shooting struggles throughout ended the postseason Sunday for the University of Wyoming women’s basketball team.
The Cowgirls got down 11-0 in the first quarter, made just six first-half baskets and shot a season-low 31.4 percent in a 67-45 loss to Arizona in the quarterfinals of the WNIT in front of 7,717 Sunday at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.
UW ended with a 25-9 record – the second-most wins in a season in school history. It was the Cowgirls’ most lopsided loss of the season, and only the second time they lost by double digits.
Arizona (22-13) will play TCU in the WNIT semifinals.
Despite UW’s first-half struggles, which included shooting 22.2 percent and 0 of 5 from 3-point range, it trailed only 26-15 at halftime. The Cowgirls scored only five second-quarter points – all by senior Sladjana Rakovic. Arizona, which was 8 of 15 from the field in the first quarter, scored just seven second-quarter points.
The Cowgirls got down by 20 midway through the third quarter, but went on a 10-0 run and trailed 39-29 with 38 seconds left in the quarter. Arizona sophomore guard Aari McDonald scored the final three points of the quarter, and scored the final five points of an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
UW trailed by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter.
“They got off to a great start, and we were just trying to find any basket we could get,” 16th-year UW coach Joe Legerski said in his postgame radio interview with the Cowboy Sports Network. “That got the crowd energized and into it, and it magnified itself. We had some really good looks at shots, but couldn’t get anything to go.
“The game was a little quicker for us, and we don’t see that kind of quickness every night.”
The Cowgirls entered the game shooting 39.2 percent from 3-point range, and they averaged seven 3s per contest. They were 2 of 15 against Arizona, and those two makes came from backup players in the fourth quarter with the outcome no longer in doubt. The two made 3s tied for a season low.
Rakovic led UW with 12 points and seven rebounds, and she played a career-high 24 minutes off the bench. Senior forward Bailee Cotton added 10 points and six rebounds.
McDonald led all scorers with 25 points, and also had six rebounds and four assists. True freshman forward Cate Reese had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Arizona scored 17 points off 11 UW turnovers.
n This was Legerski’s 500th game as UW’s coach.
n UW is 17-11 all-time in the WNIT, and 16-7 with Legerski as coach. ... Senior forward Marta Gomez played in her 128th game, the second-most in school history.
n The Cowgirls finished the season 6-6 in true road games.