CHEYENNE – Turnovers plagued the University of Wyoming women’s basketball team Friday afternoon.

Ranking ninth the country in turnovers entering the contest and committing just 11.8 per game, the Cowgirls committed 21 turnovers in a 66-60 loss to UNLV at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. But – despite the turnovers, missing two starters and two reserves because of COVID-19 protocols, and trailing the entire contest – the Cowgirls gave themselves a chance to win late. With 28 seconds remaining in the game down 60-58, an Ola Ustowska 3-pointer from the wing rimmed out and UNLV iced the game with Essence Booker going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the waning seconds.

UW’s leading scorer in junior McKinley Bradshaw and leading rebounder in senior Alba Sanchez Ramos were forced to sit out, along with reserves Lexi Bull and Marta Savic.

“It took them a little while to figure out they could play,” UW coach Gerald Mattinson said. “We dropped 11-0 right away and battled our way back and got back down again and battled our way back again.”

UW started off slow, falling victim to that 11-0 UNLV run that featured three 3-pointers from three different players. Those were the only shots from behind the arc the Rebels hit in the first half.

Senior Quinn Weidemann finally got the Cowgirls on the board with just over six minutes remaining in the first period. After a pair of baskets from the Rebels, the Cowgirls closed the quarter on an 11-4 run. Unlike its usual mellow tempo, the Cowgirls were pushing the ball down the court Friday to generate some offense.

With 5 minutes, 40 seconds left to play in the second period, sophomore Paula Salazar made a pair of free throws for the Cowgirls, who trailed 19-15, but the Rebels responded with a 10-2 run through the next 5:22. Senior Tommi Olson got a shot to fall with 18 seconds remaining in the first half and the Cowgirls went into the break trailing 29-19.

UW had 13 turnovers which led to 10 points UNLV. The Cowgirls also shot just 1 for 10 from the 3-point line in the first half.

The Rebels were able to get to the free-throw line in the third quarter, going 9 for 10 from the stripe. Their seventh and eighth free-throw attempts came with 6:28 remaining in the quarter when Alyssa Durazo-Frescas sank two for the 40-28 lead.

Although the Cowgirls shot 50% from the field in the third quarter, they could never quite cut into their deficit while the Rebels had a response for every shot. UW shot 50% in the third quarter but UNLV shot at a 55.6% clip.

The Cowgirls carried that offensive rhythm into the fourth quarter shooting again 50% from the fielding the final 10 minutes. UW used an 11-2 run to put itself in position to take the lead or tie the game late, but the comeback attempt fell short.

Weidemann finished with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists and Olson had 11 points, five rebounds and five steals. Freshman Allyson Fertig netted 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Booker led UNLV with 16 points and Desi-Rae Young added 15 points and seven rebounds.

UW (5-6 overall, 1-1 Mountain West) hosts Boise State at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

UNLV 66, WYOMING 60

Wyoming: Weidemann 6-9 7-7 19, Olson 4-8 2-2 11, Ustowska 2-9 0-0 6, Ellis 2-3 0-0 5, Fertig 4-11 2-2 10, Salazar 1-4 2-2 5, Mellema 2-2 0-0 4, Hudson 0-2 0-1 0, Barnes 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 21-51 5-22 60.

UNLV: Ethridge 4-8 0-0 9, Duazo-Frescas 1-3 2-2 5, Rooks 2-4 0-0 6, Young 5-12 5-7 15, Booker 4-9 8-8 16, Obiazor 4-8 2-2 10, Wilfred 0-3 0-0 0, Winfrey 1-1 1-1 3, Jackson 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 21-49 5-15 66.

3-pointers: UW 5-22 (Weidemann 0-2, Olson 1-4, Ustowska 2-6, Ellis 1-2, Fertig 0-1, Salazar 1-3, Mellema 0-0, Hudson 0-1, Barnes 0-3); UNLV 5-15 (Ethridge 1-4, Durazo-Frescas 1-3, Rooks 2-4, Booker 0-2, Winfrey 1-1, Jackson 0-1). Rebounds: UW 30 (Fertig 9); UNLV 29 (Young 7). Assists: UW 12 (Weidemann 5); UNLV 9 (Booker 5). Turnovers: UW 21 (Weidemann 4, Ustowska 4); UNLV 18 (Booker 6). Blocks: UW 4 (Fertig 2, Salazar 2) UNLV 0. Steals: UW 8 (Olson 5); UNLV 10 (Four with 2). Team fouls: UW 16, UNLV 13.

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