LARAMIE — There would have been no shortage of reasons for the Wyoming women’s basketball team to have its focus elsewhere Tuesday when the Cowgirls faced Division-II Colorado Christian.
“That was a challenge,” head coach Joe Legerski said. “You talk about having an emotional game against Idaho (on Saturday), you have finals and then you have Duke next week.”
But the Cowgirls made the challenge look easy, turning the ball over just twice in a 62-33 win over the Cougars. Wyoming went without a turnover in the first 36 minutes of the game and had 22 assists on 27 baskets, setting a season high and season low, respectively.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” Legerski said. “We found people cutting to the basket. We rebounded. And I think the two turnovers that we had came in the last (4 minutes) of the ball game. And so that’s something else to not even just throw it away one time in (36) minutes. So we did a good job today.”
The Cowgirls built a 22-point lead by halftime, shooting 5-of-11 from 3-point range in the first two periods.
“I think we played well,” sophomore Taylor Rusk said. “We had to come out strong. Coach always tells us we can’t take anyone lightly. So we’ve just got to come out the same way we would as any other team. And I think we executed our plan well.”
Rusk scored a game-high 15 points, which matched a career high. She made half of her shots from the field and 3-of-9 3-pointers.
“Taylor Rusk played very well today,” Legerski said. “Really got us off to a good start. Was making shots from the outside, getting assists.”
Clara Tapia had seven of Wyoming’s 22 assists and did not turn the ball over.
“As a point guard, one of my main focuses is to do as many assists as I can and as few turnovers as I can,” the junior said. “Yeah, I just try to be clean, but sometimes it’s not possible. But this game was kind of easier not to turn it over.”
The Cowgirls didn’t turn the ball over until 3:16 remained in the game, when a pass went off a player’s head for a Rachelle Tucker turnover. Then, a Sladjana Rakovic pass went out of bounds with 80 seconds remaining.
The Cowgirls were actually outscored 10-8 in the third quarter before a 13-4 fourth.
“I thought we got off to a really good start in the first half, and then you could see that our focus left and nothing says that more to me than the way we were shooting 3-point shots,” Legerski said. “First half, we’re five for 11, and then second half we’re one for 12. And that’s a tremendous sign of where you’re at.”
It was the fewest points allowed by Wyoming this regular season. The Cowgirls previously held Chadron State to 25 in a November exhibition game.
Wyoming has a week off for finals before playing Dec. 21 at No. 14 Duke.
“I think it’s definitely needed,” Rusk said. “We’ve been on the road a lot, and it’s just nice for our legs to get a break and mentally from basketball.”
The Cowgirls were playing their third game in 10 days, but Legerski made sure the emphasis Tuesday was on Colorado Christian.
“He said focus on this game right here, right now,” said Skyler Snodgrass, who had five points and five rebounds, “and then you can think about your finals and your time off for sure.”