AUSTIN, Texas -- Is there anyone on this Wyoming team that fits the moniker "Ride for the Brand" more so than Tommi Olson?

What does that mean?

Well, it's not always flashy. In fact, it's better not to be. Hitting the floor, getting into those dirty areas and making life miserable on opponents is more like it. Scrappy is a good describer. It's all about grit, toughness and determination.

That's what UW head coach Gerald Mattinson likes to call "Tommi being Tommi."

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That's exactly who he wants her to be tonight when the Cowgirls face the third-seeded UCLA Bruins in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, too.

"You guys who have watched us play understand that means sometimes Tommi's ball- hawking, sometimes she's diving down and sometimes she's jumping in the lane," Mattinson said of his junior guard from Worland.

Boise State certainly knows what Mattinson is talking about.

In the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, Olson swiped nine steals and dished out four assists in the Cowgirls' 53-38 upset of the four-time defending league tournament champion Broncos.

Olson, along with teammate Quinn Weidemann, were named to the MW All-Tournament team. Olson failed to score more than four points in three-of-four tournament games, but that's not exactly where her bread is buttered. Check out these numbers: 17 steals, 17 assists and 25 points in a four-game stretch.

 

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Is that the Wyoming way or what?

"I thought Tommi had a great tournament," Mattinson said. "I think Tommi was Tommi and she put together four great games."

Mattinson knows what he is going to get from Olson, but he expects more.

Olson averaged just six points per night throughout the regular season. She shoots at a 33.6% clip over that 23-game span. In a quarterfinal victory over No. 2 seed UNLV in Sin City, Olson sank four triples on 11 attempts and netted 16 points. It's that type of aggressiveness on the offensive end that Mattinson wants to see more of from his determined guard.

"I think what happened for us, and what happened for Tommi, we just had that discussion and she had to do it -- she stepped up and she hit some shots. You know, that's something that we've wanted all year."

Mattinson made it very clear that this week of practice in the heart of the Lone Star State is not strictly geared toward UCLA or the potential second-round matchup Wednesday, but for the future of this program.

There are just three seniors on this team: Emily Buchanan, Dagny Davidsdottir and Jaye Johnson. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA granted an additional year for everyone. That trio could come back.

Olson could potentially have three more seasons in Laramie. The way Mattinson looks at it, why not make strides now against some of the top competition in the country.

"For us to continue to grow, we have to still do what we what we're doing and still improve, but Tommi still has to look to score and be aggressive when those opportunities are there," he said. "You know, that's the only way you get better. That's the only way a program grows.

"You got to keep looking to the future and keep going."

The Cowgirls and Bruins are scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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