(Laramie, WY) – In their first three-overtime game since March of 2014, the Wyoming Cowgirls rallied Sunday afternoon in Laramie for a heart-stopping 97-90 triple overtime victory over Tulsa in the second round of the Women’s NIT. The Cowgirls (17-12) rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to surge back to force OT and then out-last the Golden Hurricane in the three extra frames.
“We could have given in, but we didn’t” said Head Coach Gerald Mattinson postgame.
“They took care of business out there and we hit some key shots when we had to.”
Tulsa opened the game hitting 3-of-4 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers to take an early 8-2 lead. The Cowgirls, meanwhile, hit just one of their first six shots before back-to-back field goals cut the deficit to 12-9 with a little over four minutes left in the first quarter. After the first media timeout, the Golden Hurricane extended their lead to 20-13 after one thanks to back-to-back hoops to end the quarter.
The second quarter began with both teams exchanging buckets before a Paula Salazar lay-in with 5:39 to go in the half cut the Cowgirl deficit down to 28-22 and led to a Golden Hurricane timeout. UW got back-to-back hoops after TU extended its lead to double digits earlier in the frame. Out of the timeout, Tulsa continued to shoot the ball well from beyond-the-arc and extended the lead back to double figures, 35-24 with 3:04 to go as UW called a timeout. The Cowgirls got the Tulsa lead down to single digits following the break, but the Golden Hurricane continued to be efficient offensively and carried a 40-29 lead into halftime. Tulsa hit 5-of-13 from 3-point range in the game’s first 20 minutes, while the Cowgirls went just 2-of-9 from deep.
The Cowgirls found their offense to begin the third as they went on a 9-2 run, capped by an Alba Sanchez Ramos corner 3-pointer cut the Tulsa lead down to 42-38 with 7:05 remaining in the quarter and forced a Golden Hurricane timeout. UW had its chances to cut even more into the deficit, but both teams went into a bit of a scoring drought midway through the third. Following the third quarter media timeout, a pair of Sanchez Ramos free throws got the Cowgirls within two with 4:04 left in the frame.
After a Golden Hurricane hoop, Quinn Weidemann’s third 3-pointer made it 44-43 in favor of TU. Tulsa would follow with a pair of free throws before Tommi Olson’s 3-pointer tied the game at 46-46 with under 1:30 to go in the third. Tulsa would respond however, scoring the last two baskets of the frame and took a 50-46 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth, Allyson Fertig opened with back-to-back hoops and the game was once again tied, 50-50. However, again Tulsa would respond as the Cowgirls couldn’t quite overtake it to take their first lead of the game as the Golden Hurricane went on a quick 7-1 run to go up 57-51. After a McKinley Bradshaw 3-pointer got UW back within three, Tulsa would regain control of the contest and grabbed a 62-54 lead with 4:22 in the game.
The Cowgirls would get back-to-back scores to get the deficit down to 62-59 with 2:59 remaining after the final media as Tulsa called a timeout. After the timeout, the game was again tied after another Weidemann 3-pointer with 2:17 to play. Following a stop, UW had its first lead of the game on a Fertig layup before TU responded with a hoop of its own to knot the score at 64-64 with 1:35 left. Both teams would go scoreless on their final two possessions and the Cowgirls would play their second consecutive overtime contest, including the third-straight game with extra basketball in Laramie.
In overtime, the Cowgirls took their first lead of the extra frame on a Weidemann turnaround in the paint to make it 69-68 with a little over two minutes left. Tulsa would again respond though, hitting a shot on the next trip down the floor. After a UW free throw, the game was once again tied, this time at 70s apiece. Neither team would be able to score the final 1:37 of the first OT, despite a couple of good looks for each and it went to a second overtime.
The second OT opened with tough layups from Sanchez Ramos and Emily Mellema as the Cowgirls had their biggest lead of the game, four, 74-70. After another defensive stop, Sanchez Ramos hit a deep two and it was 76-70 with under three to go. Tulsa would respond however to take the lead with 47.2 seconds left, scoring seven-straight points after the Cowgirls missed a layup and got called for a pair of offensive fouls on three consecutive trips.
After another Wyoming turnover, the Golden Hurricane hit a free throw to go up 78-76 with 31.9 left. The Cowgirls missed on their next offensive possession and after a Tulsa free throw, Bradshaw buried a corner 3-pointer with 10.9 left to knot the game up again, 79-79. The Golden Hurricane would miss a last-second layup on the other end and the game was sent to another extra frame.
In the third overtime, Bradshaw opened the scoring with another 3-pointer, this one from the opposite side corner as her big three in the second OT. Tulsa would tie the game at 82-82 with a three of its own though after the two teams traded defensive stops. A Fertig old-fashioned three-point play would push UW back in front with under three minutes remaining. The two teams would exchange stops and then Bradshaw would hit another three-ball, this time with 1:30 to go, forcing a Golden Hurricane timeout with 1:30 left and the Cowgirls holding an 88-82 lead.
Following the TU timeout, another Cowgirl defensive stop was then followed up by two free throws from Weidemann to extend the lead out to 90-82. The Golden Hurricane would get a quick layup on the other end before another pair of freebies from Weidemann. Tulsa refused to go away though as the two teams traded three consecutive layups before Olson was sent to the line with 37 seconds left and the Cowgirls holding a six-point edge. After Olson hit one, TU again scored a quick lay-in but sent Weidemann to the line once again, where she rattled in both. Wyoming got one more stop on the defensive end to ice the game and the escaped with an absolutely thrilling win.
Fertig and Weidemann were sensational in the win, as the duo became the first Cowgirls to score 20-or-more points in the same game since Bradshaw and Weidemann accomplished the feat last season. Weidemann led the Cowgirls with her second consecutive 20-point outburst as she scored 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting overall, 4-for-7 from 3-point range and hit 7-of-8 at the free-throw line. Fertig, meanwhile, became the first Cowgirl since Bailee Cotton in 2019 to record back-to-back double-doubles as she ended the day with 22 points and tied her career-high and Mountain West freshman record of 18 rebounds. Fertig also tied a career-best with four blocked shots.
Bradshaw and Sanchez Ramos added 19 points each in the win with Bradshaw adding eight boards and three assists while Sanchez Ramos led the way for UW with five assists to go along with six rebounds. Mellema added five assists and a pair of steals off the bench while Olson had six points, seven boards, five assists and played nearly 53 minutes.
“We’re extremely happy and I’m extremely proud of our kids. I can’t even tell you how proud I am of this team. We’ve had three overtime games in four, and they just didn’t give in. They weren’t going to give in and at the end, we got up in the third overtime and Quinn said ‘we are winning this, and we are winning this right now.’ After that you can’t just see everybody else respond and go ‘yes we are.'” Continued Mattinson postgame.
For the game, Wyoming ended up shooting better from the field than the Golden Hurricane, shooting 44-percent to Tulsa’s 43.2. UW also ended up making more 3-pointers on the day, going 11-of-25 from deep while TU shot 9-for-25. The Cowgirls ended up with a 53-42 rebounding advantage, which led to a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points. Although Tulsa shot better at the charity stripe (11-of-14), Wyoming made eight more, going 18-for-26 at the line.
The Cowgirls advance to the Sweet 16 at the WNIT and will now host UCLA Thursday, March 24 in a 6:30 p.m., contest inside the Arena-Auditorium in what will be a rematch of last season’s first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tickets go on sale immediately for Thursday’s contest. Season ticket holders have their seats on their account already. Season ticket holders just need to visit GoWyo.com/renew to get their tickets for the Sweet 16 game.