LARAMIE – University of Wyoming women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski liked his Cowgirls’ 28-point win Saturday against UNLV.
He just didn’t like the defense.
Wednesday, Legerski was happy about both.
The Cowgirls used a 26-3 run through the second quarter against San Diego State to build a 39-17 lead and never let the lead dip below 17 after that in an 87-45 victory before a crowd of 2,290 at the Arena-Auditorium.
The 42-point win for the Cowgirls (9-3 overall, 2-1 Mountain West) was the biggest in series history, and the 87 points were the most scored by the Cowgirls against the Aztecs.
“We had to get better than letting people (shoot) in the mid-40s field goal percentage wise,” Legerski said. “The first five or six minutes I didn’t think we were sharp in the decisions we wanted to make and we settled down.”
SDSU (5-8, 0-1 MW) used its quickness to get to the basket early, leading 8-6 in the first quarter.
But from there, it was all Cowgirls.
Leading 18-12 after one quarter, back-to-back baskets by seniors Sladjana Rakovic and Clara Tapia keyed UW’s 26-3 barrage. By the time Rakovic hit a jumper with 3 minutes, 32 seconds to go in the second quarter, the lead was 22 and the Aztecs looked spent.
UW led 46-24 at the half when senior Bailee Cotton buried a 3-pointer just ahead of the horn. Freshman Karla Erjavec scored 10 straight points early in the third quarter to push the lead to 56-28.
UW limited SDSU to 16 of 48 from the field (33.3 percent) and just 3 of 12 on 3-pointers. The Cowgirls also forced 19 turnovers.
Offensively, the Cowgirls came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.7 percent and hit that mark almost exactly. UW made 10 of 23 3s (43.5 percent) and shot 54 percent as a team (33 of 61).
Erjavec scored 17 points to lead the team and added four assists. Her personal 10-0 run helped the Cowgirls relax out of the gate in the third quarter.
“I had a rough start and was hard to get out of it,” Erjavec said. “When I got that one shot down in the third quarter, everything came together. They were letting me shoot and a lot of shots went in.”
Playing in just her fourth game since returning from injuries to start the season, Rakovic added 13 points by going a perfect 4 of 4 from the field and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. The UW senior also added four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 14 minutes.
“It was just great to be back,” Erjavec said. “It’s a nice feeling to play together and they’ve (the team) helped me so much coming back. They’ve just tried to embrace me coming back.”
Added Legerski: “Sladjana gave us as big a lift as we could have had in the first half; that was her best game in a Wyoming uniform.”
Cowgirls junior Taylor Rusk chipped in with 12 points and five assists with zero turnovers to improve on her assist-to-turnover ratio, which was fourth-best in the nation entering the game.
Freshman Tereza Vitulova added nine points off the bench, with senior Rachelle Tucker scoring eight and Cotton and freshman Alba Sanchez Ramos seven each.
UW outscored SDSU 45-15 in points off the bench.
The Aztecs didn’t have a single player in double figures and freshman guard Sophia Ramos, averaging 15.5 points a game coming in, was limited to six.
“(Wednesday) it was, let’s get down on defense and see what we can do,” Rakovic said. “We were really using it all and playing our game.”
The Cowgirls improved to 8-0 at home this season. … UW took over the series lead with SDSU at 29-28. The Aztecs had won 10 of the last 13 before the Cowgirls won 70-50 in Laramie last season. This was the only regular-season meeting between the two teams. … Legerski won his 298th game overall and 148th MW game Wednesday. ... Tucker’s eight points advanced a streak for the senior where she’s scored in all nine games she’s played in the season. … UW is on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. at Utah State.
Scott Nulph is the WyoSports assistant editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-755-3324. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottNulph.