20210211-spts-DagnyDavidsdottir

University of Wyoming forward Dagny Davidsdottir shoots over Utah State’s Jessica Chatman during the Cowgirls’ 68-56 victory Feb. 11. The Cowgirls host Colorado State University Pueblo today in a game that was scheduled Monday.

LARAMIE – The offensive stats might not have been pretty for the University of Wyoming Thursday night against Utah State. But when you play defense the way the Cowgirls did, you can get away with the occasional poor shooting night.

Behind a dominant defensive effort, particularly in the third quarter, UW (9-9 overall, 7-8 Mountain West) cruised past Utah State 68-56. The Aggies shot just 34.4% in the game and turned the ball over 16 times. UW scored 19 points off those turnovers.

While the Cowgirls didn’t shoot much better at 36.1%, their tenacious effort on the other end of the floor suffocated the last-place Aggies, now losers of eight games in a row. The Cowgirls entered the game with the top scoring defense in the MW (60.3 points per game allowed).

“We definitely want to shoot a little better,” said senior forward Dagny Davidsdottir, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. “But when you are able to hold teams 10 to 20 points under their average (you can win games).

“Our defense definitely helps us.”

After leading by seven at halftime, UW outscored the Aggies (4-12, 2-9) 18-9 in the third and held them to just under 19% shooting from the field in the period, allowing UW to extend its lead all the way up to 19 points and cruise for the majority of the second half.

UW got a team-high 18 points from sophomore guard McKinley Bradshaw and a game-high 13 rebounds from junior guard Alba Sanchez Ramos. The Cowgirls had 18 assists as a team.

“We talked about (coming out strong at halftime). We had to come out and win the first five minutes (of both halves),” UW coach Gerald Mattinson said. “We talked about coming out and really playing well in that first five. We did in both ways.”

The Cowgirls started the game on a 9-2 run and received eight first-quarter points from Davidsdottir. Trailing by eight entering the second quarter, the Aggies tied the game midway through the period on a 3-pointer from forward Jessica Chatman.

Despite shooting just 35.7% from the field in the first half, Utah State was able to stay afloat by making 4 of 8 3-point tries. UW finished the half strong, though, going on an 11-4 run to take a seven-point halftime lead.

“They were focusing a lot more on the outside,” Davidsdottir said. “I had a lot of space to work with.”

Following a dominant third quarter where the Cowgirls held the Aggies to just 3-of-16 shooting, Utah State crept back into the fray in the fourth quarter, cutting the UW lead to single-digits.

But a 7-0 Cowgirls run jumpstarted by three more Aggies turnovers put the game comfortably out of reach.

UW led for more than 38 minutes Thursday and did not trail during the game.

“Once again, what I’m pleased with is we’re scoring points finally,” Mattinson said. “We scored 68 and I can easily think of another 10 or 12 that we left on the table.”

Coming off a pair of tight losses at first-place Colorado State by a combined 11 points last weekend, a matchup with Utah State was an important opportunity to get back on track as the MW Tournament creeps ever closer.

Getting momentum late in the season is important, Davidsdottir said. But two at Colorado State were a tilt of momentum in their own right, as UW had a chance to win both contests.

The Cowgirls proved they could play with the league’s best, and Thursday’s dominant bounce-back win over Utah State was more proof that things are heading in the right direction at the most important time of the year.

“You want to go in (the conference tournament) with some momentum,” Davidsdottir said. “We know we can beat (Colorado State) … We’re right there.

“We’re excited with how good we can be.”

WYOMING 68, UTAH ST. 56

Utah State…… 11 14 9 22 – 56

Wyoming…… 19 13 18 18 – 68

Utah State: Brantley 3-6 1-1 7, Chatman 8-19 1-1 21, Harris 0-4 3-4 3, Latone 0-4 0-0 0, Nelson 0-4 0-0 0, Kamakawiwo’ole 2-2 2-2 7, Mendazona 1-5 0-0 2, Emrich 0-1 0-0 0, Falslev 1-4 0-0 3, Pruitt 6-12 1-1 13, Franson 0-0 0-0 0, Jarrell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-61 8-9 56

Wyoming: Johnson 1-4 1-1 3, Sanchez Ramos 2-7 0-0 6, Weidemann 2-11 0-0 6, Olson 2-3 0-0 4, Davidsdottir 5-13 4-4 14, Ellis 1-3 0-0 2, Salazar 0-1 0-0 0, Bradshaw 7-15 2-2 18, Savic 4-9 1-3 9, Hudson 0-0 0-0 0, Bull 1-1 0-0 3, Ustowska 1-5 0-0 3. Totals: 26-72 8-10 68

3-pointers: USU 6-18 (Chatman 4-7, Kamakawiwo’ole 1-1, Falslev 1-4, Pruitt 0-1, Mendazona 0-1, Harris 0-2, Nelson 0-2); UW 8-27 (Sanchez Ramos 2-4, Weidemann 2-7, Bradshaw 2-8, Bull 1-1, Ustowska 1-3, Salazar 0-1, Ellis 0-1, Johnson 0-2). Rebounds: USU 43 (Chatman 10); UW 45 (Sanchez Ramos 13). Assists: USU 6 (Brantley 2); UW 18 (Weidemann 6, Olson 5). Turnovers: USU 16 (Brantley 3, Latone 3); UW 10 (Bradshaw 3). Blocks: USU 2 (Emrich, Pruitt); UW 2 (Sanchez Ramos, Savic). Steals: USU 2 (Latone, Pruitt); UW 7 (Olson 3). Total fouls: USU 12; UW 13.

Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at mkatz@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.

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