An exasperated Lindsey Fearing finally called timeout after witnessing a seemingly endless stream of scoreless possessions. Central Wyoming College had just turned the ball over, leading to a breakaway layup by Casper College sophomore Maggie Justinak. By that point the Rustlers hadn't scored a field goal in over 6 minutes and their head coach couldn't take it anymore.
The ensuing talk touched on motivation, conviction and efficiency. Central Wyoming committed a turnover on the ensuing offensive possession, a steal by Justinak. The Rock Springs graduate tossed the ball ahead to Jaye Johnson, a Natrona County product, to complete the 3-on-0 fastbreak. Making matters worse, the Wednesday nightmare continued for another 4 minutes.
That shooting drought, which spanned time across the first two quarters, established the tone for Casper College. The T-Birds went on to cruise in the second half for an 81-53 victory at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym, extending their modest winning streak to four games.
"We were able to pressure them on defense and force bad shots," Justinak said. "Our offense is built on the success of our defense. So when we forced turnovers and got rebounds we could run up court and really get out in front of them."
It was Casper College with problems initially, as Central Wyoming capitalized on turnovers to take a 4-3 lead. Then came the scoring drought so severe it could have been classified as a national emergency.
Following the go-ahead bucket, Central Wyoming did not score a field goal until 3:16 remained in the second quarter. The Rustlers went a total of 11 minutes, 6 seconds scoring just one free throw. During that time the T-Birds (12-4, 1-0 Region IX North) went on a 27-1 run, recapturing the lead and building an insurmountable cushion.
A corner 3 from Riverton graduate Leighanna Shoulderblade ended the drought just over 4 minutes later, cutting the lead to 27-8. Another basket before half put the Rustlers in double digits but did little to carve into the T-Birds' increasing lead, which ballooned to 38-10 at the interval.
Central Wyoming (6-10, 0-1) shot a total 11.5 percent (3-of-26) in the first half. In the same amount of time, they committed 13 turnovers and 12 fouls. The T-Birds, meanwhile, shot 34.4 percent (11-of-32) while out-rebounding Central Wyoming 32-16. Nerea Baena led all scorers at the break with 14 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the line.
Baena finished with a game-high 23 points. Justinak had 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Lucie Hoskova added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the T-Birds.
"We played great defense," Casper College head coach Dwight Gunnare said. "We held them to one shot and then we got the ball up the court and got some transition baskets. I really think that run was predicated by our defense."
The Rustlers were able to keep pace out of the break with the T-Birds. A corner 3 from Rylee Burmester, a sophomore from Star Valley, served as Central Wyoming's immediate response to back-to-back 3's from Casper College's Raquel Ferrer-Bernad midway through the third quarter. In fact, Central Wyoming outscored itself in less than 5 minutes. The Rustlers needed the first 20 minutes to score 10 points. They scored 12 in the first 4:47 of the second half.
Yet, the T-Birds offense could not be stopped. They regularly led by 30 points throughout the Rustlers' offensive Renaissance. It wasn't until the early fourth quarter when the T-Birds noticeably began their cruise. Central Wyoming attacked the lane more and came away with points inside. The T-Birds settled for more shots behind the arc, where they finished 6-of-23 after a 1-of-11 start.
"We got away from our fundamentals a little bit in the second half," Justinak said. "And when we stopped focusing on fundamentals the rest of our game started to fall away."
The T-Birds return to the Swede for a Saturday conference clash against Laramie County Community College for a 2 p.m. tip-off.