A hot start on offense combined with a stifling defense helped the Wyoming Cowgirls to a 64-41 victory over Utah State Monday night in Las Vegas.

The Cowgirls advance to the semifinals of the Air Force Reserve Mountain West Women’s Basketball Championships. UW will play San Diego State Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., Mountain Time.

In a release from the University of Wyoming, head coach Joe Legerski praised his veteran players.

“I thought our senior leadership showed tonight. Marta (Gomez) and Bailee (Cotton) have been through so much in this tournament, being seniors that have played extensively. The same with Clara Tapia. We talked about our big start and what we wanted to do defensively. I thought we executed at a high level.”

Wyoming (21-7) shot 53 percent for the game. Marta Gomez led the way with 19 points. Bailee Cotton followed with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Clara Tapia and Karla Erjavec added 10 points apiece. That was Tapia’s first game in double-figures this season.

Legerski added in the release from UW, “When you have players like Marta and Bailee, get you going offensively, makes it a game, where all of a sudden in the second half, we can kind of determine how we want to play it, whether we want to speed it up or slow it down. I thought the first half really gave us that opportunity.”

The Cowgirls also had a 35-23 edge in rebounding and scored 30 points in the paint.

UW got off to an excellent start. They shot 73 percent from the field in the first quarter and knocked down 8-of-11 shots. With the game tied at 4-4, Wyoming went on a 9-0 run and took control. Erjavec made a three-pointer, followed by a Gomez lay-up, two free throws from Cotton, and a lay-up by Cotton. Gomez knocked won a pair of free throws that gave the Cowgirls a double-figure lead at 20-9. It was 23-11 after the first quarter.

Wyoming’s lead was cut to single digits just three more times in the game. They led 37-21 at halftime. The Cowgirls opened the second half on a 13-2 run. A Gomez 3-pointer gave UW their biggest lead of 27 points, at 50-23. The margin never got closer than 19 points the rest of the game.

Utah State (16-15) shot only 35 percent from the floor. Shannon Dufficy led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds. She finished 8-20 from the field. No other Aggies player scored more than six points.

Wyoming will face No. 7 seed San Diego State in the semifinals. The Aztecs knocked off No. 2 seed New Mexico in overtime Monday, 70-61. San Diego State out-scored the Lobos in the extra period, 11-2.

In other quarterfinal action Monday, No. 1 seed Boise State beat No. 8 seed Nevada 72-67. The Broncos got 37 points from Braydey Hodgins. The No. 4 seed Fresno State downed No. 5 seed UNLV, 66-55. Four Bulldogs scored in double figures led by Candice White with 17 points.

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