LARAMIE – It was a slow start on the offensive side for the University of Wyoming women’s basketball team Wednesday night.

After leading by one at the end of the first quarter, the Cowgirls went on to cruise by Colorado Christian University 70-31 to start the regular season with a win.

Although they couldn’t quite find the bottom of the net, the Cowgirls were solid on the defensive side to come out of the opening frame with a 9-8 lead.

UW’s first points didn’t come until there were 3 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter, when sophomore Quinn Weidemann drew a foul and sunk both of her attempts from the free-throw line.

The Cowgirls started to press near the end of the first period, which frustrated the Cougars and allowed UW to turn its defense into offense.

CCU got into foul trouble and the Cowgirls managed to score points from the stripe, going 7 for 10 from the free-throw line in the opening frame.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t score (in the first quarter),” first-year UW coach Gerald Mattinson said. “But we got more aggressive and got them in foul trouble, got to the free-throw line and fortunately made some free throws.”

Karla Erjavec scored nine of her game-high 14 points during the second quarter to pace the Cowgirls and provide an offensive spark.

However, it was Wyoming’s defense that was the most impactful during the second quarter while the Cougars’ offense went stagnant.

Their lone point of the second frame came on a free throw from Brooklyn Hurlbut with 6:21 remaining before the break.

The Cowgirls went into the half with a 25-9 lead after outscoring the Cougars 16-1 in the second quarter.

“We’re improving every day on the defensive end and when the tougher games come, we know defense is what’s going to win us those games,” Erjavec said. “That’s probably going to be our top priority.”

UW came out of the break with even more confidence.

Erjavec and Weidemann hit back-to-back 3-pointers and forced CCU to call a timeout just 1:16 into the period.

The Cowgirls continued their 13-0 run to start the half before CCU’s Lourdes Gonzalez drove the paint and finished at the basket with 5:57 left in the third period. Prior to that bucket, the Cowgirls had gone on a 36-1 run since 18 seconds were on the clock at the end of the first quarter.

UW continued to put points on the board and scored 25 in the third quarter, including seven points off of turnovers.

“We willed ourselves to some offensive points and to a comfort level so we could play better offensively,” Mattinson said. “You can’t always control what you do offensively but what you can control the intensity level and how hard you’ll play defensively.”

The fourth quarter went back and forth, but the Cowgirls had room to work with and won their first game of the season when Mattinson became just the fourth Cowgirls coach in program history to win in their debut.

The Cowgirls had 12 total steals and five blocks as a team.

CCU shot 26.1 percent from the field compared to UW’s 44.8 percent clip.

Freshman McKinley Bradshaw added 13 points and five rebounds. Sophomore guard Tommi Olson had five assists and four steals.

The Cowgirls will be back on the court at 1 p.m. Sunday when they host St. Mary’s College at the Arena-Auditorium.

WYOMING 70, COLO. CHRISTIAN 31

Colorado Christian: Gonzalez 4-5 0-2 8, Hurlbut 1-5 2-6 4, Christy 2-4 0-0 6, Nunez 3-9 2-2 8, Tsoungui 0-9 0-0 0, Griffin 0-1 0-0 0, Pribble 1-2 0-0 3, Fournier 0-2 0-0 0, Clewley 0-3 0-0 0, Walker 1-6 0-0 2. Totals: 12-46 4-10 31

Wyoming: Vitulova 2-6 2-2 6, Rusk 2-6 0-2 5, Erjavec 6-10 0-0 14, Sanchez Ramos 2-8 0-0 5, Weidemann 2-3 2-2 8, Johnson 1-2 1-2 3, Kepenc 2-2 0-0 5, Bradshaw 4-8 4-6 13, Powell 3-4 0-0 6, Vaifanua 1-6 0-0 2, Olson 0-1 0-0 0, Buchanan 1-2 1-1 3. Totals: 26-58 10-15 70

Halftime: UW 25, CCU 9. 3-pointers: CCU 3-12 (Christy 2-3, Pribble 1-2, Tsoungui 0-1, Nunez 0-2, Fournier 0-2, Walker 0-2); UW 8-20 (Weidemann 2-2, Erjavec 2-4, Kepenc 1-1, Bradshaw 1-3, Sanchez Ramos 1-4, Rusk 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Vaifanua 0-1). Rebounds: CCU 28 (Gonzalez 8,); UW 43 (Vitulova 6, Powell 6,). Assists: CCU 3 (Tsoungui, Griffin, Pribble); UW 14 (Olson 5). Turnovers: CCU 22 (Tsoungui 6); UW 16 (Erjavec 4). Blocks: CCU 3 (Tsoungui 2); UW 5 (Rusk 2). Steals: CCU 7 (Griffin 3); UW 12 (Olson 4). Total fouls: CCU 14; UW 8.

Attendance: 2,246.

Robert Munoz is an intern with WyoSports. He can be reached at sports@wyosports.net.

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