UW Roundup: Cowgirls bounce TCU from MWC Tourney, 61-44; Six Wrestlers at St. Louis NCAA Finals; Luster wins Defensive POY

Gorrell scored ten points against TCU. (UW Photo)

(Las Vegas) – The Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team (12-16 overall) advanced out of the first round of the Mountain West for only the fourth time with a 61-44 win over the TCU Horned Frogs (16-14 overall), on Wednesday afternoon.

“Coming into this tournament, we talked to the team that it’s one and done,” said head coach Joe Legerski. “You win, you advance; you lose, you head home. With so many young players in this program, was not quite sure what we’re going to get.

“TCU is very talented and we’ve played well in conference play. I thought tonight we really stepped up. We asked that we needed to have more people than just one in double digits. We needed an answer from so many people.”

Four of five starters finished the game in double-figures including freshman Kayla Woodward. She recorded 17 points and six rebounds in her 34 minutes of play. Kaitlyn Mileto followed with 12 points while Ashley Sickles and Alison Gorrell chipped in 11 and 10 respectively. Chaundra Sewell led the way with eight rebounds. As a team, they were 20-47 (.426) from the field and 9-19 (.474) from beyond the arc.

“I thought Kayla Woodward got us off to a good start in the first half. Kaitlyn played well especially on defense, but it was a complete team effort. That’s what I’m happiest about. We took care of the basketball.”

The Horned Frogs were led by Briesha Wynn with 12 points and ten rebounds off the bench. Chelsea Prince added seven points and two others with six. They shot 19-63 (.302) from the field and 3-14 (.214) from beyond the arc.

Ashley Colbert put TCU on the board first while a three-point field goal from Kayla Woodward got the Cowgirls in the scoring column, 3-2. After a basket from the Frogs, Wyoming scored four straight points to extend the lead to three, 7-4. Over the next four minutes, the two teams traded scores as the Cowgirls continued to hold onto a one point advantage, 11-10, through the second media timeout. Two missed free throws by Latricia Lovings preserved the UW lead and on the next possession Kaitlyn Mileto hit a three point field to extend the score to 14-10. The Frogs answered back with three straight baskets to regain the 16-14 lead. The Cowgirls struggled offensively as they went over seven minutes without scoring until a three point field goal by Ashley Sickles ended the drought. Her basket would begin a 15-2 scoring run to put Wyoming ahead by 11, 29-18. They would also play strong defensively as they held the Frogs scoreless in the final 5:22 to take a 32-18 lead heading into the lockerroom.

Kayla Woodward led all scorers with 12 points plus three rebounds. She was followed by Kaitlyn Mileto with eight points, while Ashley Sickles added five points and a team high four rebounds. The Cowgirls shot 12-26 (.462) from the field and 6-11 (.545) from beyond the arc. TCU was led by Ashley Colbert with six points and Briesha Wynn with four. The Frogs were 9-30 (.300) from the field and 0-4 (.000) from beyond the arc.

The Frogs hit the first basket of the second half to end a six minute drought for them. Wyoming responded with eight of the next ten points to extend their lead to 18, 40-22, with 14:31 remaining in the half. A three-point field goal from each team made it 43-25, and then the Cowgirls would answer with five unanswered to give them a 48-25 advantage. Antionette Thompson hit a basket to stop the run making the score 48-27 heading into the second media timeout. Out of the break, a free throw followed by a three-point play from Brenna Freeze put the score at 52-27. TCU tried to close the gap with by scoring eight straight points to pull within 17, 52-35. Wyoming went five minutes without scoring until a field by Chaundra Sewell made the score 54-35. The Frogs wouldn’t go away as they scored 9 of 11 over the next three minutes to pull within 12, 56-44. The Cowgirls would hit free throws down the stretch to hold onto the 61-44 win.

Wyoming will now have a day off before playing in the semifinals on Friday against the top seed San Diego State Aztecs. The game is set for 12:00 p.m. PT and 1:00 p.m. MT.


Zach Zehner (UW Photo)

Six Poke Wrestlers in NCAA finals, brackets released today

(St. Louis) – The landscape for the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships gained some clarity Wednesday as the NCAA released its brackets for the event, which is March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

The past weekend featured 290 automatic bids awarded through conference qualifying tournaments. To round out the field, the NCAA Selection Committee named the final 40 at-large bids Wednesday and released final brackets. The Cowboys didn’t receive any additional qualifiers to the event and will bring the six automatic-bid winners from the NCAA West Regional on Sunday.

Each weight class features 33 wrestlers, and the NCAA seeds the top 12 in each class and draws in the remaining wrestlers. Three Wyoming wrestlers earned seeds, including seniorJoe LeBlanc, who was the top seed at 184 pounds; senior Shane Onufer, the No. 2 seed at 165; and redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez, who earned the No. 9 seed at 197 pounds.

“Every draw at the NCAA Tournament is tough, whether you’re seeded or not,” Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. “I look at it and I’m pleased with where we’re at. I think we’re in very winnable situations. You don’t look past the first round, but we’re in a good position. We’ve just got to go out and wrestle hard and be more prepared than them.”

Here’s a breakdown of the first-round opponent for each of Wyoming’s six qualifiers:
125 pounds: Senior Michael Martinez (24-11) vs. 10th-seed Nicholas Megaludis (Penn State, 24-7)
133: Redshirt freshman Zach Zehner (28-11) vs. Scott Festejo (Old Dominion, 23-14)
165: Second-seeded Senior Shane Onufer (31-1) vs. Benjamin Jordan (Wisconsin, 23-10)
174: Sophomore Pat Martinez (34-10) vs. seventh-seeded Jordan Blanton (Illinois, 25-7)
184: First-seeded senior Joe LeBlanc (30-1) vs. Mike Larson (Missouri, 20-4)
197: Ninth-seeded redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez (36-5) vs. Daniel Mitchell (American, 20-11)


Leonard Washington (UW Photo)

Cowboys to face UNLV in first round of MWC Tournament Thursday

(Las Vegas) – The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team starts play at the 2012 Conoco Mountain West Basketball Championships on Thursday in Las Vegas with another crack at the Rebels. The third-seeded Cowboys (20-10, 6-8) square off with sixth-seeded UNLV (25-7, 9-5) after dropping a 74-63 road contest to the Rebels last Saturday. The Pokes are 2-0 in the MW tournament after ending the regular season against the same opponent, including a 75-67 upset of New Mexico in the 2009 three-six matchup. The six seed is 7-5 all-time against the three seed in MW tournament play, but the Rebels are an impressive 17-0 at home this season and play host to the conference championships for a sixth-straight year. Tip is set for 9:30 p.m. MT in the Thomas & Mack Center.

Fans can follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming’s game through the men’s basketball Gameday Central page on WyomingAthletics.com. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network and televised on The Mtn. and CBS Sports.




JayDee Luster

Poke’s Luster named MWC Defensive Player of the Year; Washington, Cruz earn all-conference honors

(Colorado Springs) – Wyoming senior guard JayDee Luster was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and two other Cowboys earned All-MW honors, as the conference office announced the awards Monday night. Luster also claimed All-Defensive Team and Honorable Mention All-MW in a vote of the league head coaches and media, while redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington was named to the Second Team and senior guardFrancisco Cruz was Honorable Mention.

Luster spearheaded the Cowboy defense this season to become the second Cowboy to earn MW Defensive Player of the Year after Justin Williams claimed the award in 2006 and 2007. He has held 10 of the 14 opposing MW players he has guarded below their season scoring average with his tenacious defense. Offensively, he ranks fifth in the MW with 3.7 assists per game and his 1.73 assist-turnover ratio is fourth. His 34 minutes per conference game ranks second on the team and seventh in the league. Luster’s top MW performance was eight assists, two steals and no turnovers against TCU on Feb. 28.

Washington has proven himself as one of the most athletic players in the MW this season to earn the highest honor for a Cowboy since Brandon Ewing was named to the First Team in 2009. Washington currently ranks in the top 10 of seven MW statistical categories during conference play, including second in blocks (1.2) and field goal percentage (53.1). He notched three double-doubles against league foes, including 32 points and 14 rebounds against Colorado State on Jan. 21, to rank fifth in points (13.9) and rebounds (7.5). On the glass, he is 10th in the MW in offensive rebounds (1.6) and fourth in defensive rebounds (5.9). He also ranks eighth in free throw percentage (69.2).

Cruz showed improvement in several areas of his game during his second season at UW. He ranks 11th in the MW in scoring with 12.6 points per game, fourth in field goal percentage at 46.2 and sixth in threes per game with 1.6. His 1.68 assist-turnover ratio is fifth and 3.0 assists per game are ninth. He leads the Cowboys and ranks second in the MW at 35 minutes per conference game. His top MW performance was 22 points, four rebounds and three steals versus New Mexico on Jan. 14, while he also notched 19 points and five assists versus TCU on Feb. 28.

Wyoming opens play at the 2012 Conoco MW Championships against UNLV on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MT in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.


–UW Sports Information Office