LARAMIE – A high-powered offense and gritty defense got the University of Wyoming women’s basketball team back on the winning track.

The Cowgirls topped the University of Nevada, 83-59, to snap a three-game losing streak. It was UW’s second-best offensive performance so far this season – the best coming Dec. 12 against Mississippi Valley State.

“We really needed this win,” Cowgirls sophomore guard Tommi Olson said. “It was necessary for us to get back on our feet and get ready to go on Saturday against the top team in the league.”

UW started the game in dominant fashion, hitting shots from all over the floor and pressuring Nevada on the defensive end which forced a 7% shooting performance in the first quarter from the Wolf Pack.

The Cowgirls (8-8 overall, 4-3 Mountain West) carried their momentum into the second quarter and continued to extend their lead. With 3 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the first half, freshman McKinley Bradshaw converted a 3-point play to give UW a 35-14 lead. Just 50 seconds later, sophomore Alba Sanchez Ramos converted a 3-point play of her own. UW went into the break with a 46-17 lead.

“What we did well (defensively) was we funneled them into places where we wanted to and then provided a lot of help, and it created a lot of tough shots,” UW coach Gerald Mattinson said. “As importantly, we really controlled the defensive boards in the first half.”

Nevada (8-9, 1-5) was outrebounded 26-11 in the first half.

For the first time in a few games, the Cowgirls outscored their opponent during the third quarter. The ability to come out of half and keep their foot on the gas was refreshing.

“We needed that third quarter,” Mattinson said. “I’m not happy we gave up 20, but I’m definitely happy we scored 21 … the third quarter jinx is done.”

UW’s bench combined for 46 points, just two games ago, the bench combined for zero points. It’s two leading scorers on the evening were freshmen Jaeden Vaifanua – who had a game high 17 points – and Bradshaw, who added 14. Both players came off the bench.

“One of the conversations we had this week was when we win and play well our bench contributes, and they hadn’t been the last couple of games,” Mattinson said. “They stepped up (Wednesday) and what’s good about that is they were scoring significant points and actually carrying the offense.”

An offensive performance such as this may have come at the right time as the Cowgirls prepare for a matchup with MW-leading Fresno State on Saturday. It will give UW some momentum it needs heading into the contest and could create some confidence.

“It’ll definitely be a challenge (Saturday),” Olson said. “This win really helped us in taking the next step to overcome that challenge. I think we have a good chance and it’ll be a good game.”

WYOMING 83, NEVADA 59

Nevada…… 6 11 20 22 – 59

Wyoming…… 21 25 21 16 – 83

Nevada: Effa 5-8 5-6 16, Phillips 4-8 4-6 12, Booker 3-11 2-2 9, Jimenez 0-4 2-2 2, Maio 0-4 0-0 0, Hamilton 1-4 0-0 2, Williams 1-4 2-2 5, West 0-2 0-0 0, Lacy 2-5 0-0 4, Nakai 2-5 0-0 5, Alexander 1-3 2-2 4. Totals: 19-58 17-20 59

Wyoming: Vitulova 4-7 0-0 8, Rusk 4-10 0-0 8, Erjavec 3-6 0-0 8, Sanchez Ramos 5-6 1-4 11, Weidemann 1-2 0-0 2, Pilli 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 1-2 0-0 3, Kepenc 3-4 0-0 9, Bradshaw 3-5 7-9 14, Vaifanua 6-11 4-4 17, Olson 1-2 1-2 3, Buchanan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-55 13-19 83

3-pointers: UNR 4-22 (Effa 1-1, Williams 1-3, Nakai 1-4, Booker 1-5, Jimenez 0-2, Maio 0-2, Hamilton 0-2, Phillips 0-3); UW 8-15 (Kepenc 3-3, Erjavec 2-2, Johnson 1-1, Bradshaw 1-1, Vaifanua 1-3, Olson 0-1, Vitulova 0-1, Sanchez Ramos 0-1, Olson 0-1, Rusk 0-2). Rebounds: UNR 26 (Phillips 5, Lacy 5); UW 45 (Vaifanua 7). Assists: UNR 9 (West 3); UW 12 (Olson 3). Turnovers: UNR 10 (Three with 2); UW 16 (Kepenc 4). Blocks: UNR 5 (Lacy 4); UW 2 (Sanchez Ramos, Johnson). Steals: UNR 6 (Three with 2); UW 3 (Rusk, Pilli, Olson). Total fouls: UNR 20; UW 19.

Attendance: 2,270.

Robert Munoz is an intern for WyoSports. He can be reached at sports@wyosports.net.

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