LARAMIE — The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Even though the CSU women’s basketball team was able to battle back from a large deficit at Wyoming – something that might not have been possible two weeks ago – the end result was the same.
The Wyoming Cowgirls rode the hot shooting of Ashley Elliot and tough, physical play to best the Rams, 69-64, in overtime Saturday afternoon at Wyoming’s Auditorium Arena.
The win marks the first time the Cowgirls have beaten the Rams in 13 tries – a span of nearly six years.
“I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now,” said Carrie Bacon, one of seven Cowgirl seniors who had never beaten the Rams. “It’s been a long time. This is the best feeling in the world.”
Wyoming (13-5 overall, 3-2 in Mountain West Conference) used physical inside play and the outside accuracy of sophomore guard Elliot to open up a 13-point lead on the Rams, 47-34, with 12:45 remaining.
Just when the game seemed to be slipping from their grasp, the Rams responded with a 17-2 run over the next seven minutes to regain the lead, 51-49, with just under six minutes to play. The game’s intensity picked up as the teams battled to a 59-59 tie at the end of regulation.
But the Rams’ hopes for the comeback victory faded in the extra period. The physical style of the game seemed to wear on CSU, as the Rams shot just 2 of 9 from the field in the extra session and made only 1 of 5 free-throw attempts.
“Did we have chances to win this game? Absolutely we did,” said CSU head coach Chris Denker. “You have to be able to put the game away in overtime. We missed some free throws and some chip shots around the basket. They stepped up and made theirs.”
No one stepped up bigger for Wyoming than Elliot. The sophomore from Flagstaff, Ariz., went off for a career-high 24 points on 8 of 4 shooting, including four three-pointers.
“In big games, Ashley shows up,” said Wyoming head coach Cindy Fisher, who also was enjoying her first victory over the Rams. “In the first half, when our other scorers were struggling, she just took it on her shoulders to carry us.”
When their shooters were struggling, Wyoming turned to a brutal, physical style of play to frustrate the Rams. Even though the foul count was high for both teams, the Cowgirls with their deeper bench seemed to benefit more. Senior center Shannon Strecker fouled out with 1:24 to play, leaving the Rams without their top post player.
“They’re all really tough, strong players,” said CSU guard Jasai Ferrucho. “It was a rough game. We had a hard time on offense for most of the game it seems. That was probably one of the most physical games I’d even been in.”
The loss puts the Rams at 11-8 on the season and 2-3 in
Mountain West play. Though they dropped their fourth straight road decision, the Rams seemed in good spirits about their ability to come back.
“If this would have happened to us two weeks ago, I think we would have folded and lost by 30, but that didn’t happen tonight.” Borton said. “That’s the most important thing we need to take from this: We didn’t give up, we battled back.”
The Rams will get their next chance to cure their road woes when they head to San Diego State on Thursday before facing UNLV in Las Vegas on Saturday.