Liv Roberts’ 144 rebounds this season are tied for the most on the Wyoming women’s basketball team. She might have had a few more, though, if the Cowgirls would stop hitting so many 3-pointers.
“Sometimes I feel too confident, that I don’t go rebound,” the Wyoming senior said of her teammates’ 3-point shooting. “So, I need to get that back in my mind. I still have to go rebound, even though I think they’re going to make the shot.”
Wyoming has hit 37 of 66 3-point attempts over its last three games, good for 56.1 percent. The Cowgirls now lead the Mountain West in 3-point shooting, having made 42.6 percent of its 3s in conference play.
“We recruit that way,” head coach Joe Legerski said after the Cowgirls’ win Saturday over San Diego State. “We want shooters. We need people to be able to attack the basket and draw and kick, and we work on it every day. So, the confidence comes and goes with players.
“And when you see the confidence there, you see people putting up big numbers, and then all of a sudden you may not see big numbers, because the confidence starts waning a little bit. And we’ll get back in the gym tomorrow and show them everything they did and bring it back.”
The team’s numbers have been especially impressive to start the games during its recent three-game winning streak, shooting 66.7 percent from 3 before halftime. Wyoming hit 10 of its first 13 3-pointers to start both its win at Utah State and its home win over UNLV. In the latter, the team hit 12 of 15 3-point attempts before halftime. Wednesday against the Aztecs, the Cowgirls began the game 12-of-21 from 3-point range, with nine triples coming in the first half.
Wyoming shot so well from behind the arc that San Diego State was forced to abandon its zone defense.
“They were giving us those 3s, so we were taking the shots that they were giving us,” Tijana Raca said.
Taylor Rusk had five 3-pointers in the game, and Roberts had four, with Marta Gomez adding two of her own. Clara Tapia even hit a bank shot 3-point runner late in the first half.
Believe it or not, though, the game started with some rough shooting from the Cowgirls.
“I think we thought it was just going to carry over,” Legerski said of the teams’ 3-point shooting against UNLV. “And I think we had probably three or four airballs in the first five minutes. And I think that just shows you that they want to do really well, but they’re still learning how to handle some of the pressure that’s involved game to game.
“But like I said, Liv Roberts got us straightened out in a hurry. She had two big 3s.”
Rusk’s performance was also encouraging for the Cowgirls going forward. After connecting on a career-high six 3-pointers at Utah State, she had made just three in her next six games before Wednesday.
“I’ve kind of been struggling shooting,” Rusk said, “and just to get that confidence back up is really good. And everyone else shot great, too, so it helps to keep it rolling.”
Said Legerski: “It was good to see Taylor Rusk get going again. She’s been down to shooting only a couple shots a game, and we talked about she needs to take the shots that are there. She works so hard to set everybody else up — and once again, she has three assists and no turnovers — but we need her to score. And she did again tonight.”
Legerski did emphasize, though, that the Cowgirls need to have a plan for if those 3-pointers aren’t falling.
“The only thing I take a look at, 27 3s out of 57 shots,” he said. “You better hope you’re making a good percentage. So we’re going to work more about when it’s not going as well as it is, that we’ve got to figure out how we want to attack on the inside, rather than just live and die by shooting 3s.”
Still, few teams will complain about a 56.1 3-point shooting percentage over the last three games.
“I think that we’re shooting tremendously from 3 over the past few games,” Roberts said. “And at the beginning of the year, me personally, I was really struggling. Every time I caught the ball, I wasn’t sure. I was like, ‘Please go in, please go in.’
“And I think that’s how a lot of us were back at the beginning of conference. We were wishing for the ball to go in. And now you can see Marta (Gomez), Tijana, Taylor, myself, Natalie (Baker), we feel confident that the ball is going to go in, and I feel confident in my teammates that it’s going to go in.”
Maybe even a little bit too confident.
WEDNESDAY: Wyoming 70, San Diego State 50.
HOT TOUCH: The Cowgirls have shot better than 56 percent from the 3-point line in their past three games, making two-thirds of their 3-pointers in the first half.
HE SAID IT: “We recruit that way. We want shooters. We need people to be able to attack the basket and draw and kick, and we work on it every day.” — head coach Joe Legerski.
NEXT: Wyoming at San Jose State, 3 p.m., Saturday.
Wyoming 70, San Diego State 50
Wednesday, at Laramie
SAN DIEGO STATE (50): Baylee Vanderdoes 0-5 1-2 1, Khalia Lark 2-3 0-0 4, Naje Murray 1-7 1-2 4, McKynzie Fort 6-12 4-5 17, Geena Gomez 5-10 0-0 11, Te’a Adams 1-8 4-4 6, Arantxa Gomez 0-1 0-0 0, Abby Lowe 0-1 0-0 0, Kiara Edwards 1-2 0-0 3, Cheyenne Greenhouse 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 16-53 10-13 50.
WYOMING (70): Taylor Rusk 5-11 2-2 17, Natalie Baker 0-4 0-0 0, Bailee Cotton 5-9 1-1 11, Liv Roberts 7-9 0-0 15, Clara Tapia 1-2 0-0 3, Sladjana Rakovic 1-4 0-0 2, Selale Kepenc 0-1 0-0 0, Marta Gomez 4-8 0-0 10, Tijana Raca 4-8 0-0 9, Marleah Campbell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-57 3-3 70.
3-point goals: SDSU 4-10 (Fort 1-1, Edwards 1-1, Murray 1-3, G. Gomez 1-4, Lark 0-1) UW 13-27 (Rusk 5-8, Roberts 4-5, Gomez 2-4, Tapia 1-1, Raca 1-5, Rakovic 0-1, Kepenc 0-1, Baker 0-2). Rebounds: SDSU 30 (Lark 5, G. Gomez 5) UW 36 (Cotton 10, Baker 6, Roberts 6, Rusk 5). Assists: SDSU 5 UW 20 (Tapia 5, Gomez 5, Baker 4). Attendance: 2,525.