Cowgirls Squeak out Win in Saint Louis

After grabbing two convincing victories in Laramie to start the season, the Cowgirls had to battle to remain undefeated against the winless Billikens on Sunday.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There's no place like home.

At least, it seemed that way on Sunday.

The Cowgirls got their first taste of life on the road, and it took a few last-minute heroics to keep their perfect record intact. Hanna Zavecz scored 13 second-half points, and Wyoming pulled out a 61-57 win over the Billikens Sunday afternoon.

St. Louis gave the Cowgirls a scare late, scoring five straight points to pull within 56-54 with under a minute to play. But with the clock winding down, Megan McGuffey drove to the basket for a layup which put the Cowgirls up 58-54. After a Wyoming free throw, SLU answered with a three-point field goal by Jackie Gilbert that made the score 59-57 with 8.5 seconds remaining, but Jodi Bolerjack's final pair of free throws sealed the victory.

Hanna Zavecz finished with a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes of play. She was followed by Justyna Podziemska with 18 points and seven boards, and Aubrey Vandiver added 10 points.

The Cowgirls (3-0 overall) shot 18-46 (.391) from the field but only 1-10 (.100) from beyond the arc. They made up for their poor long-range shooting with physical inside play, out-rebounding the Billikens (0-3 overall) 38-26.

"Saint Louis is a team similar to us a few years ago. They play several young, talented players, who can push the ball up and down the floor," said head coach Joe Legerski. "I thought we executed a couple of plays at the end. It was about getting the ball to Megan (McGuffey) where we talked about and the play came through. Also, the free throws by Jodi Bolerjack at the end were big time in this win for us."

Three players finished the night in double-figures for Saint Louis led by Katie Paganelli, who recorded a team-high 16 points. Gilbert and Maggie Hennegan added 12 and 11 respectively. SLU shot 15-43 (.349) from the field and 23-34 (.676) from the free throw line.

The Cowgirls jumped ahead in the early going of the first half by taking a 4-0 lead. SLU answered with a three-point play by Hennegan to make the score 4-3 through the first media timeout. A Podziemska layup gave the Cowgirls a 6-3 lead, but the Billikens answered with a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 9-6.

Four straight points by Wyoming helped regain a one-point lead, 10-9, which was answered by Saint Louis scoring the next seven of nine to take a five-point advantage. The Cowgirls pulled to within one, 16-15, but another 7-2 run by SLU put the Billikens back up 23-17. Despite a struggle shooting the ball, Wyoming closed out the half out on a 7-3 run to go in to halftime down 26-24.

The Cowgirls were led in the first half by Vandiver with eight points and five rebounds. Podziemska followed with six points, and Zavecz added five. Wyoming struggled to find its jump shot in the opening period, hitting just eight of 29 (.276) from the field and 0-of-9 (.000) from beyond the arc.

Saint Louis was led by Amy Klotz and Hennegan with seven points each, while Hennegan also led the way with five rebounds. The Billikens were 7-19 (.368) from the field and 11-17 (.647) from the free throw line.

Wyoming came out inspired to begin the second half, using a 6-0 run to regain the lead at 32-26. SLU struggled offensively, going nearly five minutes without scoring. A Paganelli free throw at the 15:44 mark ended the drought but not before the Cowgirls expanded their lead to double-figures, 37-27.

The Billikens scored the next three of four to pull within 38-31. After Wyoming scored the next basket, SLU went on a 9-4 run to pull within 44-40.

The Cowgirls responded with eight straight points to give themselves another double-digit lead, 52-40, but they couldn't shake Saint Louis as another 9-2 run pulled the Billikens to within five at 54-49 with two minutes remaining in the game.

A basket by Podziemska stopped the run and set up the final exchange.

Wyoming will close out its road trip on Tuesday, Nov. 20, against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison. The game is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

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