LARAMIE – University of Wyoming senior Taylor Rusk dropped in a career-high 26 points, and the Cowgirls made free throws down the stretch for an 84-79 win at Nevada on Monday night in Reno.
The Cowgirls (15-11 overall, 11-6 Mountain West) have won four straight, and coach Gerald Mattinson tied the program record for wins by a first-year coach. Nevada (14-14, 7-10) entered its Senior Night winning five of its last seven games.
Rusk made a career-high 11 field goals, including a perfect 4 for 4 from beyond the 3-point arc. It was the second 20-point game in her career. Her previous career high was 21 points, and she now reached double-digit scoring 11 times this season and 49 times in her career. Rusk also had four rebounds and three assists.
"What a breakout game for Taylor Rusk," Mattinson said in a release. "I'm so proud of her. On (Nevada's) senior night here, they gave our two seniors flowers, and maybe she thought it was her senior night? We'll make sure we get her flowers Thursday because if it takes flowers to get her to score 26, I'd have had flowers at every game this year."
UW sophomore Quinn Weidemann scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including making four free throws in the final minute of the game to keep the Cowgirls in front. Weidemann also had three assists, three rebounds and a steal.
"Quinn's put together to back-to-back complete games," Mattinson said. "She's guarding their best players, and a lot of the times, because of the press, she brought the ball up, and she was able to score 19 for us and hit big free throws down the stretch. I'm pleased as can be with this big win on the road."
Cowgirls sophomore Tereza Vitulova scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including making her only attempt from deep. Vitulova also tied the team high with six rebounds.
Sophomore Tommi Olson scored two points and had six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Sophomore Karla Erjavec returned to the lineup after battling an illness and scored six points with an assist.
The Wolf Pack were led by Essence Booker's 17 points and four rebounds. Imani lacy scored 16 points and had a rebound, while Amaya West and Da'Ja Hamilton each scored 13.
The Cowgirls made three straight 3-pointers and a layup midway through the first quarter for a 17-6 lead. The Wolf Pack ended the run with a jumper, and each team each scored five more points down the stretch as UW led 22-13 after the first quarter.
A 3-pointer by Erjavec pushed the Cowgirls' lead to 29-19 with 6 minutes, 33 seconds left before halftime. Nevada answered with a 7-0 to cut the lead to 29-26. UW ended the quarter with a 6-0 run for a 42-33 at the break.
The Cowgirls used an 8-2 run for their largest lead of the game of 14 points at 59-45 with 3:09 left in the third quarter. But the Wolf Pack countered with a 7-1 run to close the gap for a 60-52 Cowgirls lead heading into the final quarter.
Alba Sanchez Ramos converted a 3-pointer with 3:35 left in the game to push the Cowgirls to an 11-point lead at 75-64, and after Nevada scored a pair of jump shots, Weidemann cashed in another trey for the Cowgirls for a 10-point lead. Nevada then went on an 8-2 run to make it interesting with the lead down to four with 14.6 seconds left before sending Weidemann to the line twice. She made all four free throws.
UW shot 51.6% (32 of 62) from the field, a season-high 55% (11 of 20) from 3-point range and 90% (9 of 10) from the free-throw line.
Nevada shot 48.5% (32 of 66) from the field, 53.3% (8 of 15) from beyond the arc and 87.5% (7 of 8) from the free-throw line.
The Cowgirls will play their last regular-season game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday when they host Fresno State for Senior Night in Arena-Auditorium.