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Bears Bounce Cowgirls From WNIT

Jr. Fallon Lewis
Photo by Townsquare Media

Behind three players in double figures, the Northern Colorado Bears stunned the Wyoming Cowgirls 71-63 Thursday night in the first round of the WNIT at the Arena-Auditorium. Northern Colorado knocked down 12-of-15 free throws in the final 4:25 to hold on for the victory. The Bears tied a school record with their 21st win of the season.

UNC head coach Jamie White said of the victory, “For us, it’s just the step in the right direction. I was saying to the girls, the last three years we’ve just gotten better and better, and this year it was our turn to win in the post-season. That’s what we did.”

Wyoming (24-8) tried to make a push early in the second half, but Northern Colorado withstood the challenge. After Laramie native Kyleigh Hiser’s 3-pointer at the 13:25 mark, the Bears held a 46-35 lead. The Cowgirls put together an 11-4 spurt and pulled within 50-46 with 7:57 remaining.

Northern Colorado (21-12) answered with a 13-5 run for a 63-51 edge at the 3:39 mark. They withstood every UW challenge down the stretch.

Cowgirl head coach Joe Legerski said we talked about that, “Everybody has to understand, anyone playing at this point and time has won, and won at a very high level. I give a great deal of credit to Northern Colorado. They came out and played with a great deal of energy.”

UW was led by Chaundra Sewell, who had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Fallon Lewis added 15 points off the bench, while Ashley Sickles chipped in 13 points. The Cowgirls shot 20-52 (38.5%) on field goals, 7-19 (36.8%) beyond the arc and struggled at the free throw line, as they were only 16-29 (55.2%). Wyoming’s second leading scorer, Kayla Woodward, was held to 2 points on 1-8 shooting.

Sewell said, “It was definitely frustrating. Nothing could fall, it seemed like. When we would make a run, they would come right back and hit another shot.”

Northern Colorado was led by Lauren Oosdyke with 16 points, while D’shara Strange and Lindsay Mallon added 15 points apiece. The Bears were 25-51 (49%) from the field, 4-10 (40%) from deep and huge 17-20 (85%) at the line.

The game was tight early and featured 5 lead changes and 3 ties. Wyoming held a 19-17 lead behind 9 points from Sewell midway through the period. That’s when the Bears exploded, as UNC closed the first half on a 20-4 run, which included a 9-0 spurt in the final 2:34 for a 37-23 advantage at the break. The Bears shot 53.6 percent from the field in the first half.

The Cowgirls wrap up the season with their shortest stint in the WNIT under head coach Joe Legerski. This was also UW’s first loss in women’s basketball to UNC since 1988.

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