Cowgirls Drop Triple-Overtime Heartbreaker to Rams, 95-92

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Courtesy Wyoming Media Relations

LAS VEGAS (March 14, 2014) – Junior forward Kayla Woodward and senior guard Chelan Landry both notched 21 points and the University of Wyoming women’s basketball team had a shot from Landry at the buzzer to tie, but the Cowgirls dropped at 95-92 triple-overtime game to Colorado State in Friday’s semifinals of the Mountain West Championships at the Thomas & Mack Center. The dramatic contest was the longest for the Cowgirls (20-11, 10-8 MW) since three extra periods against Kansas State on March 28, 2007, in the WNIT and was the first MW tournament game (men’s or women’s) to go into triple overtime.

“Well, I've only been involved in a three‑hour basketball game one other time,” UW head coach Joe Legerski said. “There are plays to be made, there are plays that are left out on the floor. But the heart from the players on the floor were just tremendous today.”

Fifth-seeded Wyoming battled back from multiple deficits throughout the game before falling to top-seeded Colorado State (25-6, 15-3 MW). The Cowgirls trailed by 12 at halftime, by five with 25 seconds left in regulation and five in the second overtime, but found an answer to the Rams at each point to keep the game going. CSU etched out a four-point lead in the third extra period, before a three from junior guard Kaitlyn Mileto with four seconds left cut the lead to one at 93-92. The Rams made one of their ensuing free throws to set up a final shot attempt from Landry, who had a good look, but the ball bounced off the back of the rim and out.

“It just seemed like we were always trying to maybe have one more possession,” Legerski said. “And I thought Kaitlyn Mileto came through and hit two big free throws to send us into an overtime. Kaylee Hoffman, a senior, hits one. So you start taking a look at what was happening in that game. Both teams had several very good players sitting on the bench in foul trouble.”

Woodward notched her 10th 20-point game this season and also added her sixth double-double with 10 rebounds, while playing a career-high 50 minutes. Landry’s 21 were a career high, as she also dished out four assists, while Mileto added 14 points in a career-high 47 minutes and freshman center Kaylie Rader had 12. Senior guard Fallon Lewis finished just two points shy of a double-double with eight points and 16 rebounds. Mileto nine three-point attempts moved her to third on Wyoming’s career list with 529.

Wyoming shot just 35 percent (29-of-82) from the field, 25 percent (6-of-24) beyond the arc and 62 percent (28-of-45) at the free throw line, but Colorado State didn’t manage much better at 39 percent (29-of-75), 24 percent (5-of-21) and 74 percent (32-of-43), respectively. The Rams earned a 56-53 advantage on the boards, but 11-8 in assists and 36-11 in bench points. Both teams notched nine steals, but combined for just 27 turnovers despite playing nearly three full halves of basketball. The Cowgirls attempted MW tournament records of 45 free throws and 82 field goals, while their 92 points were the second most ever scored in a MW tournament game.

The Cowgirls and Rams went back and forth through the first seven minutes, as neither team led by more than a basket. Woodward hit a three to put the Cowgirls up 10-7 at the 13:22 mark, but Wyoming would go cold from there with just one more field goal the rest of the half. Colorado State took advantage with a 20-6 run over the next 10 minutes to build a 27-16 lead. Lewis got the line down the stretch, but the Rams still took a 32-20 lead into halftime.

Wyoming shot just 19 percent (5-of-27) from the field in the first half, as its 20 points were its fewest in any half this season. CSU hit 44 percent (12-of-27) from the field and both teams made two threes in the first half. The Rams led 23-16 in rebounds and 5-1 in assists.

The Cowgirls started the second half by quickly cutting CSU’s lead to single digits and crafted a 7-0 run to pull as close at four at 39-35 eight minutes into the half. The Rams kept the advantage around two possession the rest of the half, but the Cowgirls hung around and finally managed to tie the contest on two free throws from Mileto with four seconds left. CSU once again went in front in the first overtime, before a jumper from senior guard Kaylee Hoffman with three seconds to go knotted the game once again. The second overtime looked to be the undoing of the Cowgirls, as the Rams took a five-point lead, but two layups from Rader, including one with one second left, sent the game to a third extra period and set up the final run.

After having one of its worst opening halves of the season, Wyoming improved throughout the game by shooting 38 percent (13-of-34) from the field in the second half and 52 percent (11-of-21) in the overtimes. The Cowgirls scored 41 points in the second half to send the game to extra periods.

Wyoming now waits for word next week on possible postseason berth.

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