The Wyoming women’s basketball team saw last season how difficult life without Liv Roberts can be, losing in the first round of the Mountain West tournament after Roberts tore her ACL.
Tuesday, they got a painful reminder. The senior was not available for the Cowgirls’ penultimate regular season game at Air Force because of illness. Without her, the Cowgirls, who sat atop the conference standings, lost 57-47 to the Falcons, who had been at the very bottom. Wyoming’s 47 points tied for its fewest in conference play.
Though the loss ended Wyoming’s six-game winning streak, the Cowgirls still control their own destiny in their hunt for a regular-season conference title.
Tuesday, no Cowgirls scored more than 10 points, a mark reached by Taylor Rusk and Clara Tapia. Wyoming shot 39.6 percent from the field, slightly worse than Air Force, but had four more turnovers than the Falcons and only made two 3-pointers, both by Rusk.
Wyoming (20-8 overall, 13-4 Mountain West) and Air Force (4-24, 4-14) played fairly neck-and-neck basketball in the first three quarters, with the only discrepancy being the Falcons’ one-point advantage in the second — though Air Force only clung to that lead because of a buzzer-beating 3 to end the third quarter. But the Falcons outscored Wyoming 22-13 in the fourth quarter to take their first double-digit lead of the game.
The game featured nine lead changes and seven ties. Wyoming last led when Marta Gomez began the fourth quarter with a layup, but Air Force then embarked on an 11-0 run. Wyoming went without a point for nearly 5 minutes during that stretch.
Roberts’ 16.2 points per game in conference play rank seventh in the Mountain West.
Kaelin Immel led all scorers Tuesday with 19 points, and Emily Conroe had 13 points with 12 rebounds. Bailee Cotton led Wyoming with 10 rebounds.
The Cowgirls began the day tied for first place with UNLV, but Wyoming holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Rebels because of its win Feb. 10 in the teams’ lone game against one another. UNLV lost Tuesday at Nevada, and Boise State defeated San Diego State, creating a three-way tie between the Cowgirls, Rebels and Broncos for first place at 13-4.
Wyoming and Boise State finish their regular seasons against one other Friday at the Arena-Auditorium, and UNLV concludes its regular season Friday against Utah State. If UNLV loses that game, the winner of the game in Laramie finishes atop the Mountain West. If UNLV wins and Wyoming defeats Boise State — which the Cowgirls did last month in Boise, Idaho — then the Cowgirls and Rebels would be tied for first place, and Wyoming would still hold the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to its win against UNLV in Laramie.