The Wyoming women’s basketball team mounted a furious second-half comeback Wednesday at Montana State, but dropped its third game in a row, 50-46 to the Bobcats.

Montana State built an 18-point lead in the second quarter and took a 31-16 advantage into the locker room.

“I applaud the team’s effort,” UW head coach Joe Legerski said in a release, “but I told them at the end of the game we can’t keep digging ourselves into that hole to keep fighting out of it. It requires too much energy.”

Wyoming (4-3) cut the gap to 36-27 after three quarters and continued to chip away in the fourth. A basket by Sladjana Rakovic made it 38-32 with 8 minutes, 5 seconds remaining and a jumper from Liv Roberts brought the Cowgirls within four at 40-36 with 5:57 to play.

Bailee Cotton, who finished with a game-high 11 points for UW, made it a two-point game (42-40) with 4:16 remaining. Montana State went on a 4-0 run before Marta Gomez hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 46-43 with 59 seconds on the clock.

After the Bobcats made 1 of 2 free throws, Taylor Rusk’s triple with 14 seconds to play made it 47-46. But Montana State made 3 of 4 free throws for the final margin, with Wyoming missing two 3-pointers in the final seconds.

Gomez finished with 10 points for the Cowgirls, while Rakovic had a game-high 11 rebounds. Roberts, the Cowgirls’ leading scorer, was held to eight points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Hannah Caudill had a game-high 17 points for Montana State (4-2).

The Cowgirls return home Sunday to host Idaho State. Tip-off is 1 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium.

Montana State 50, Wyoming 46

Wednesday, at Bozeman, Mont.

WYOMING (46): Taylor Rusk 2-3 2-2 7, Natalie Baker 0-3 0-0 0, Bailee Cotton 4-9 3-5 11, Liv Roberts 4-13 0-1 8, Clara Tapia 1-4 0-0 3, Sladjana Rakovic 3-9 1-2 7, Selale Kepenc 0-2 0-0 0, Marta Gomez 4-9 0-0 10, Skyler Snodgrass 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-54 6-10 46.

MONTANA STATE (50): Delany Junkermier 3-8 2-6 9, Madeline Smith 3-6 0-0 6, Blaire Braxton 3-7 0-0 6, Hannah Caudill 5-9 3-4 17, Oliana Squires 1-6 0-0 2, Ashley Van Sickle 0-4 0-0 0, Laura Pranger 2-6 0-0 5, Rebekah Hatchard 2-4 1-1 5. Totals 19-50 6-11 50.

3-point goals: UW 4-17 (Gomez 2-6, Rusk 1-1, Tapia 1-3, Snodgrass 0-1, Baker 0-2, Roberts 0-2, Kepenc 0-2) MSU 6-18 (Caudill 4-5, Junkermier 1-3, Pranger 1-3, Hatchard 0-1, Squires 0-3). Rebounds: UW 37 (Rakovic 11, Roberts 7) MSU 35 (Braxton 9). Assists: UW 11 (Tapia 3) MSU 13 (Junkermier 3, Caudill 3). Steals: UW 7 (Rakovic 3) MSU 4 (Junkermier 2). Attendance: 6,012.

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Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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