Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Scott Nulph

A happy holiday upset

Cowgirls beat No. 15 Colorado to end nonconference play


December 23, 2016

COURTESY/ SHANNON BRODERICK/ Boomerang photographer

Wyoming guard Liv Roberts attempts to pass the ball past Idaho's Geraldine McCorkell on Dec 9 in Laramie at the Arena-Auditorium.

LARAMIE – University of Wyoming women's basketball coach Joe Legerski worried prior to his team's two-game road trip to end the nonconference schedule that his players may be thinking more about leaving for Christmas than finishing up the schedule.

He doesn't have to worry any more.

The Cowgirls took control of No. 15-ranked Colorado in the third quarter and held on for an 82-75 victory Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado.

Liv Roberts scored 21 points and had career highs in both rebounds (11) and steals (five). The Cowgirls also got a season-best 19 points from sophomore Marta Gomez off the bench.

The win is the Cowgirls' first over a ranked team on the road since 2006.

UW coach Joe Legerski told his team the pressure was all on Colorado entering the game.

"That relaxed us and gave us some confidence," Roberts said. "After the first 4 minutes, we kind of relaxed and started playing the way we can and getting stops on defense."

Colorado (10-1) led 20-13 early in the second quarter before Wyoming's offense got rolling. An 8-0 run gave Wyoming a 21-20 lead and the Cowgirls led 32-31 at the half.

Another 8-0 run in the third quarter gave UW a 42-34 lead. The Cowgirls (8-3) stretched the margin to 51-41 with 1 minute, 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Buffaloes climbed within 55-53 with 6:38 to play before UW junior Natalie Baker hit a 3-pointer to help the Cowgirls take back some momentum. A Baker layup gave Wyoming a 63-53 lead with 5:15 to go and the Cowgirls still led by 10 with 3:49 left.

That's when Colorado made its final comeback attempt, climbing within 69-67 with 2:09 left.

But after each time missed on their next possessions, Gomez hit a big 3-pointer with 57 seconds left and the Cowgirls led 72-67.

Leading 74-69, Roberts helped seal the win with her fifth steal of the game. Roberts credited UW associate head coach Gerald Mattinson for help on the steal.

"He came over during the time out and he was explaining their play and what they were doing," Roberts said. "He drew it up exactly as they ran it and I could see it coming. I just stepped in the passing lane and got the steal. We all knew what we were doing on that play."

From there Wyoming went 8 for 8 on free throws to ice the win, with Gomez making four, Roberts two and Hailey Ligocki two.

Roberts tied her career high with 21 points, going 7 of 14 from the field and 5 of 5 from the charity stripe. Her 11 rebounds produced her second double-double of the season.

Gomez, who averaged 11 points over her last three games, continued her solid play with 19 points, including going 3 of 5 on 3-pointers and 8 of 8 on free throws. The three treys gave Gomez 85 on her career, good for No. 17 all-time at UW.

"I just couldn't be more proud of a young group that had to handle the pressure and atmosphere of being on the road against a very talented team," Legerski said. "We led pretty much all the second half so I'm happy to come away with the win."

UW sophomore point guard Clara Tapia added 13 points and six assists and Baker scored 10 to go with five rebounds. Ligocki chipped in eight points and UW also got 11 combined points from bench players Marleah Campbell (6) and Taylor Rusk (5).

Colorado was led by Kristen Leonard's 29 points. Makenzie Ellis added 16 and Ariana Freeman 15 in the loss.

"(The Cowgirls) seem to be a throw back to my early days here where we have to be a little tough defensively and we have to rebound," Legerski said. "I thought we did that tonight and we executed what we wanted to do offensively."

Wyoming is now off for its Christmas break and will resume play on Dec. 29 at Air Force in the Mountain West opener for both teams.


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