LARAMIE — By the time overtime tipped off Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium, every rebound was a challenge for the Wyoming women’s basketball team. With an oversized opponent in Washington State, two post presences gone to knee injuries and forward Bailee Cotton fouled out, the Cowgirls were in danger of being outrebounded out of the season.
But with a one-point deficit and 31 seconds to play, the Cowgirls got their rebound. Five-foot-seven sophomore guard Clara Tapia pulled down a missed Cougars’ jumper and gave Wyoming one final possession. Tapia dribbled the ball down the court and, after a pair of passes failed to yield an open look, took the shot herself in the final seconds.
It fell short. Wyoming’s season ended with a 68-67 overtime loss to Washington State in the second round of the WNIT.
“It was a weird feeling, honestly,” said Cotton, who finished with nine points and five rebounds. “It didn’t feel real, because I felt like we won that. We did what we wanted to do.”
Wyoming’s season ended at 22-10 overall.
The Cowgirls also had a chance at a game-winning shot in regulation, but Marta Gomez’s 3-point attempt with 4 seconds left failed to break the stalemate.
The Cougars used their size advantage to outrebound Wyoming 16-4 on the offensive glass and 50-34 overall. Wyoming was without 5-foot-11 junior and leading rebounder Liv Roberts and 6-2 freshman Selale Kepenc, both injured.
Neither team scored in the first 1:52 of overtime, and Wyoming was held scoreless for the first 4 minutes, missing its first five shots. The Cougars edged ahead by four on a Pinelopi Pavlopoulou jumper and two Kayla Washington free throws. Cowgirls freshman Taylor Rusk’s 3-pointer with 53.8 seconds remaining gave Wyoming life, but those would be the Cowgirls’ only overtime points.
Pavlopoulou led all players with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Junior Natalie Baker had 18 points to pace Wyoming, as well as a team-high six rebounds.
Skyler Snodgrass, who had eight points in all of the regular season, scored five points in the first half, giving her 11 in the WNIT.
The Cougars grabbed a nine-point lead early in the third quarter, the largest of the game, with an 8-3 run out of halftime. But Wyoming closed the quarter on a 14-4 run — seven of which came on free throws — to take a three-point lead into the fourth.
After the Cougars outscored Wyoming 23-16 in the second quarter and Wyoming outscored the Cougars 23-16 in the third, the teams combined for just 19 points in the fourth. The Cougars tied Wyoming three times in the quarter but couldn’t push ahead, despite the fact that Wyoming had just three field goals.
Hailey Ligocki, Wyoming’s lone senior, ended her collegiate career with seven points and three rebounds. She missed an open layup with the game tied and 1:38 to play in regulation but absolved herself with a tough jumper a minute later to put Wyoming ahead. Pavlopoulou then hit a jumper with 25 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“The toughest part now is this team will never play again together,” Legerski said. “And that’s the most difficult part. But to see the way Hailey Ligocki went out, I thought she played her heart out tonight. And that’s all you can ask.”