LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Their minutes are down. So are their point totals.
And that's just fine with their head coach.
Just two days after cruising to a 68-37 shellacking of Northern Colorado, No. 24 Wyoming ran away from NAIA Division I Westminster College 73-35 Wednesday night, and for the second time in as many games, Joe Legerski gave his starters a few extra minutes on the bench.
"It's important," he said. "These are games I'd like to have sprinkled throughout the schedule so that you can rest your starters at times and get some playing time for your younger players."
The Cowgirls (11-1) took a 15-point advantage into halftime and outscored Westminster 22-3 during the first 10 minutes of the second half. They jumped ahead 61-27 by the time Legerski pulled his top five.
"We cannot show (in practice) the same pace that the game's going to be played at," he said, "so it always takes us a little while to get going. I thought the second half really showed how we stepped up."
The Cowgirls limited Westminster (12-2) to just 11 second-half points on 12.5 percent shooting. They also outscored the Griffins 36-10 in the paint.
"Coach Legerski…has one of the best teams in the country," said Westminster head coach J.D. Gustin. "They are just really good."
Justyna Podziemska led UW with 20 points, and she and Jodi Bolerjack—who added with 13—were the only starters to finish in double figures for the Cowgirls. Hillary Carlson scored 12 points in 14 minutes off the bench, and Megan McGuffey added 11.
Shannon Evans scored 18 points to lead the Griffins, who will see the game go down as an exhibition. Alexis Tucker had seven points and seven rebounds.
Podziemska's 20 points tied a season high, and after watching her score only five total points in the Cowgirls' last two games, Legerski was happy to see an end to her recent shooting struggles.
"Justyna can shoot the basketball," he said, "(but) when Justyna decides that she's in a slump, she's in a slump. And when she determines that (she's) no longer in a slump, she shoots the ball well.
"I was really happy to see Justyna shoot the ball well tonight."
Wyoming trailed early after Tucker scored six points and dished out one assist to help give Westminster a 12-11 lead. The Cowgirls responded with a three-pointer from Podziemska followed by a conventional three-point play from Hanna Zavecz and another three-pointer from Bolerjack, starting a 28-12 run to end the half and giving the Cowgirls a 39-24 lead at intermission.
Wyoming now enters its longest break of the season; the Cowgirls won't resume play until Jan. 3 when they travel to San Francisco to take on the USF Dons.
"I'm a little nervous about having that much time off," Legerski said. "We don't play again for two weeks. In this profession, during the season, that's a lifetime. Usually you're playing every three or four days.
"Knowing the senior leadership on this team, I think we'll get right back in the fold and get going."
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