No. 24 UW Gets Past Denver, Stays Perfect

Wyoming has seen solid play out of its top two scorers all season. But Hanna Zavecz and Justyna Podziemska just weren't feeling it against Denver on Saturday. See which Cowgirl stepped up to keep the team's perfect record intact…

Not that the Cowgirls have a two-woman team or anything.

But with their two leading scorers in the middle of their worst shooting slump of the season, somebody else had to step up.

Hanna Zavecz and Justyna Podziemska, who came into Saturday's game averaging 17.2 and 16.6 points per game respectively, combined for just four points on 1-of-13 shooting in the first half as the Denver Pioneers jumped out to a 20-17 halftime lead over Wyoming.

The Cowgirls turned to their bench, and sophomore Aubrey Vandiver answered the call.

"We made a change in the lineup with Aubrey," said UW coach Joe Legerski. "Justyna's back was really giving her some problems, and one of the things that I believe (is) that if you're able to play, you need to go out and compete. If you're not, we have enough depth in this team, and that was a change we made."

The change worked like a charm. Vandiver scored 20 of her 25 points in the second half as No. 24 Wyoming (6-0) pulled away from the Pioneers (2-3) en route to a 61-45 victory.

"There was nothing really special," Vandiver said. "I came out and worked hard."

Hard enough to shoot 62 percent from the field and finish with three three-pointers and a game-high 12 rebounds.

"Aubrey really did a great job of stepping in, strong on the glass, and gave us a big lift that was needed," Legerski said. "You take a look at the box tonight and she's 10-of-16 from the field, three-of-four from three, a dozen rebounds, 25 points, 30 minutes on the floor, and she even gets a couple of assists out of there.

"Just a tremendous game. She plays steady, confident and she loves to compete."

Zavecz never did find her stroke, finishing just two -of-12 from the floor, but she did find other ways of affecting the score, dishing out a game-high seven assists and pulling down nine rebounds. She also knocked down seven free throws to finish with 11 points.

Podziemska's back kept her out of the second half, but Wyoming never needed her.

Vandiver scored nine points during a 17-5 run that gave the Cowgirls a 34-25 lead with 15:06 left in the second half, and Wyoming never trailed the rest of the way.

"I thought we responded well," Legerski said. "We played with a great deal of composure in the second half. We were very frantic in the first half. I thought Denver did a great job of taking us out of our offense that we have ran."

The Cowgirls missed their first seven shots from the field, and managed just 25 percent shooting in the period. They also got out-rebounded by Denver 7-1 to open the game, and the Pioneers jumped out to a quick 8-0 advantage.

"I am very pleased with the way we played in the first half," said DU coach Pam Tanner. "I think we did some great things and we played them as well as anyone has.

"We had a chance to maybe do something real special."

Vandiver scored five unanswered points during a 30-second stretch that pulled Wyoming within 10-7 with 13:38 left in the first half, and Joe Bolerjack's second three-pointer 11 minutes later gave the Cowgirls their first lead of the game at 16-15.

The Pioneers responded by scoring five of the final six to take a slim lead into the locker room.

"They did a tremendous job, and we came back and played really well in the second half," said Legerski, whose halftime adjustments seemed to make all the difference for the Cowgirls.

After Alisha Godette scored 13 of the Pioneers' 20 first-half points, Legerski assigned Vandiver to her defensively, and the Pioneers' physical scorer managed just four points over the final 20 minutes.

"She's very talented. Godette is an excellent player, and Justyna was having a difficult time moving with her, so the change we made was was to go smaller with Aubrey, and all the sudden the game really ended up being physical between two physical players.

"It just matched up better for us."

Wyoming will go on the road to face Colorado on Wednesday, Dec. 5 before traveling to Iowa for the Hawkeye Challenge Dec. 8-9.

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