Cowgirls Destroy UNLV, Win 11th Straight

Wyoming continued to dominate in conference play on Wednesday, beating UNLV and notching its fifth straight league victory. But even Joe Legerski was surprised by how dominant his team's performance was…

The Lady Rebels attacked Wyoming with a full-court press.

Justyna Podziemska shot them down.

The senior had 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and No. 18 Wyoming won its 11th straight game, dominating UNLV in an 87-39 victory Wednesday night.

Podziemska made the Rebels pay time and again, breaking their pressure with hot shooting. She hit five 3-pointers during a 43-14 Wyoming run that extended from the four-minute mark of the first half midway through the second.

"I think we really broke their press," Podziemska said. "We really shared the ball well also; we always make the extra pass to find the open person and we don't force anything, and I think that was a big issue in today's game."

Podziemska finished with 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 33 minutes of play.

"I thought Justyna was tremendous tonight," UW head coach Joe Legerski said after the game. "We knew the pressure was going to come, and with the pressure you have to stay aggressive and we were able to do that.

"We had 26 (3-point attempts). That's going to happen with pressure because we're going to break the pressure and we're shooting the basketball. We don't want to break the pressure and set back up."

The 87 points by the Cowgirls marked a season-high—and a one-sided performance Legerski didn't exactly plan for.

"This game was completely unexpected," he said. "It was a situation that when you get up by 20 or 25 points, it becomes a great deal easier for everyone to shoot the ball."

The Cowgirls knocked in 12 3-pointers against UNLV and shot 47.5 percent from the field while holding the Lady Rebels to just 20.7-percent shooting.

"One of the things I take a great deal of pride in is how well we can defend, and we're going to really make every shot difficult," Legerski said. "When we're able to defend and challenge each and every shot and try to get one-and-out, as we call it—one shot, we rebound and we're in transition—we can put some pressure on people, especially here at Wyoming."

Rebecca Vanderjagt opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from the left corner to put the Cowgirls up 6-0. Fanny Tirtiaux answered with a 3-pointer of her own, but Wyoming went on a 15-4 run to lead 21-7 with 6:57 on the clock. The game was never close after that; the Cowgirls led 35-16 at the break and 73-28 with five minutes to go in the second half.

"They outplayed us," UNLV head coach Regina Miller said. "They are a very good team, especially when they play within their comfort zone, and they are very good at establishing that."

The Cowgirls got no field goals from their leading scorer, Hanna Zavecz, who finished with just five points on 0-of-7 shooting. But Zavecz had the difficult assignment of guarding the Mountain West Conference's leading scorer, Sequoia Holmes, and she held the UNLV star to only six points—13 points less than her season average.

"Some nights you throw it up there and it goes in. Some nights you can't buy one," Legerski said. "(Zavecz) had a difficult night offensively, but what's great about this team is that we have people that can step up."

And on Wednesday, several of those who stepped up came off the bench to do it. The Cowgirls outscored the Rebels 44-8 in bench points. They got 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists from sophomore Aubrey Vandiver. Paula Elum added 11 points, and Hillary Carlson chipped in nine in relief of the team's starters.

"This is a huge lift for us," Podziemska said. "All the girls on the bench play amazing and have the confidence to hit their shots. They're not just (passers). They look for themselves too, and we try to look for them. I think it is a really great time, and we have 16 great players."

Wyoming extended its winning streak to 11 with the victory over UNLV. The Cowgirls will head back out on the road to take on Colorado State on Saturday. The game is set to tip off at 2:00 p.m. in Fort Collins.

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