Freshman Selale Kepenc scored a career-high 12 points on four 3-pointers and the Wyoming Cowgirls escaped Albuquerque with a key 60-58 win over New Mexico.

Clara Tapia and Marta Gomez added 12 points apiece, as the Cowgirls guaranteed themselves no worse than fifth place in the Mountain West with two games left in the regular season. This victory also snapped a two-game skid for Wyoming.

Cowgirl head coach Joe Legerski said in a release from the university,

“It was an outstanding team win. One of the things we talk about is what’s gotten us to this point that everyone has stepped up and contributed. When you look today and we had 26 bench points that tells me we got back to everyone stepping up. We made a decision at halftime to go with Selale (Kepenc) in the second half to give us the opportunity to score and she really followed through. She was 4-8 from the field, 4-7 from three but more importantly she grabbed six rebounds and no turnovers.”

UW used a 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take control. Taylor Rusk, Gomez and Kepenc all hit from long range during the key spurt. UW held off a furious rally by the Lobos, who closed within one, at 59-58, with 11 seconds left on a three-point play by Richelle van der Keijl. Clara Tapia made one free throw before Alex Lapeyrolerie missed a three-pointer, as New Mexico tried to win it in the final seconds.

Wyoming (19-8, 11-5) only shot 38.5 percent for the game. They finished 12-of-28, 43 percent, from beyond the arc. The Cowgirls got 26 points from their bench. Kepenc’s six rebounds were a career-best, and she did it in a career-high 15 minutes played. Tapia finished with six assists.

New Mexico (15-13, 10-7) shot 36 percent in the game. The Lobos were led by Richelle van der Keijl with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Cherise Beynon also had 18 points.

It was a tight game from the start. The score was tied at 12 after the first quarter. New Mexico jumped out 12-4, but Wyoming rallied and tied it. Then, the Lobos were up 25-23 at halftime. UW pulled within 40-39 after the third quarter. Overall, there were nine lead changes and six ties.

The Cowgirls return home Tuesday for the second Border War against Colorado State. Game time is at 6:30 in the Arena-Auditorium. UW’s lone senior, Hailey Ligocki, will be honored prior to the game.

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