The New Mexico Lady Lobos were looking to play the part of the spoiler at Senior Day on Saturday at the Arena Auditorium. They put on a gritty performance, but the University of Wyoming Cowgirls won their final home game of the season by a score of 72-50.
Senior Ashley Sickles scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and senior Chaundra Sewell added 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cowgirls (22-6, 11-4 Mountain West). The Lady Lobos (14-13, 6-8 MW) were led by senior Caroline Durbin who finished with 17 points.
Head Coach Joe Legerski had nothing but praise for his team after the win.
“I told this team that they could be something special. They were that at home and on the road [this season],” Legerski said. “Tell you what, there’s nothing better than playing at the [Arena Auditorium] in front of you guys.”
Before the game began, there was a short ceremony to honor the departing seniors for the Cowgirls. Sewell, Brenna Freeze and Sickles were honored at center court, along with some of their friends and family.
The first half was a tightly contested affair, with both teams resorting to tough shots from outside and underneath the hoop. The defenses of both squads controlled the first 10 minutes, and with seven minutes left in the half, the Cowgirls and Lobos combined for only 29 points.
Sickles started to take control of the game towards the end of the half. The senior honoree hit a fortunate 3-point attempt, and also finished off a 3-point play to help extend the lead to double digits at half time.
The Cowgirls led the Lobos 33-24 at the break, but it could have been more were it not for poor free throw shooting and perimeter shooting by the Cowgirls.
The Cowgirls began the second half a little sluggish, which had Coach Legerski calling from the bench for more aggression on offense. The spark was provided by junior Kaylee Hoffman, who subbed in for Kaitlyn Miletto, who although scored double-digit points for the 20th game this season, struggled to find her shooting range. Hoffman brought an increase in energy to Wyoming both on offense and defense, and the rise in tempo allowed UW to pull away from New Mexico as the half continued.
Sickles scored the game’s final points as a nice send off for her and the rest of the seniors in their final game at the arena auditorium.
The cowgirls final regular season game before the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas is against the Colorado State Rams on Wednesday. Tipoff will be at 6:00 p.m.
The Cowboys were able to stay in the game throughout, but it wasn’t enough as they lost away to #14 New Mexico 53-42. Sophomore Riley Brabau led the Cowboys (18-11, 4-11 MW) with a career-high 14 points, and Larry Nance Jr. had 10 rebounds. The Lobos (25-4, 12-2 MW) sophomore Alex Kirk led all scorers with 15 points.
UW shot just 28 percent from the field on 16-57 shooting. The Lobos did not shoot much better at 36 percent on 15-42 shooting. The Cowboys are winless in their last four matches as their season continues to fall apart.
The Cowboys’ final home game of the year is the Border War against the CSU Rams at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday.