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LARAMIE (AP) — Lauren Oosdyke scored 16 points while D’shara Strange and Lindsay Mallon added 15 apiece to lead Northern Colorado to a 71-63 win over Wyoming in the first round of the Women’s NIT on Thursday night.
Chaundra Sewell scored 17 points and had eight rebounds to pace Wyoming (24-8), while Fallon Lewis added a season-high 15 points and Ashley Sickles 13.
Northern Colorado advances to the second round Sunday and will host St. Mary’s, a 68-51 winner over Seattle.
Strange, who scored 13 in the first half, suffered an ankle injury with six minutes left and had to be helped off the court, but her teammates answered every surge by the Cowgirls.
“D’shara was great the first half,” Northern Colorado coach Jaime White said. “We had to play some kids because we got into foul trouble. Everybody came off the bench and did a good job. You couldn’t really ask for more defensively.”
White served as an assistant under Wyoming’s Joe Legerski from 2003-06 and said it’s always tough to play against him.
“He’s my mentor. He’s the one that gave me a break, gave me a chance,” she said. “It’s always hard. It’s too bad anybody has to lose, but I’m not gonna say I don’t like to win.”
Oosdyke said the Bears’ defense created much of their offense and that the defense was able to turn back every Cowgirls challenge.
“We knew that they were going to be shooting outside, that they were going to make a run,” she said. “They’re a great team and it was inevitable that they were going to make runs. We really stayed calm, and I thought we really controlled the pressure there at the end.”
Legerski said his team didn’t match UNC’s energy until the second half.
“Anyone playing at this point in time has won and won at a very high level,” he said. “They (the Bears) came out and played with a lot of energy. In the second half I thought our energy level changed.”
The difference, ultimately, was free throws, he said. UNC was 17 of 20 (85 percent) while Wyoming was 16 of 29 (55 percent). The Bears made 8 of 10 foul shots down the stretch.
“That’s a big part of winning what I call tournament basketball, and you have to give credit to Northern Colorado for doing that,” Legerski said.
Northern Colorado coasted into the halftime locker room on a 20-4 run to lead 37-23 at the break. Wyoming fought back, closing within 50-46 on a free throw by Lewis at the 7:57 mark. Oosdyke answered with a 3 and the lead went back to 10 before the Cowgirls closed within 65-61 with 24 seconds left on a free throw by Sewell. Oosdyke and Mallon combined to go 6 of 6 from the line in the last 21.1 seconds.
In the last 2:34 of the half, the Bears closed with a 9-0 spurt as Mallon sank three long jumpers and Molly Duehn added a 3-pointer. Wyoming was 1 of 7 from the floor with three turnovers during the Bears’ run.
The first 11 minutes saw three ties and six lead changes. Wyoming’s last lead was 19-17 after a free throw by Sewell at the 9:29 mark. Victoria Timm’s 3-pointer from the top of the key triggered the game-changing surge for the Bears.
Wyoming’s Kayla Woodward, averaging 14.5 points per game, was held to two points on 1 of 8 shooting.
Lauren Oosdyke scored 16 points while D’shara Strange and Lindsay Mallon added 15 apiece to lead Northern Colorado to a 71-63 win over Wyoming in the first round of the Women’s NIT on Thursday night.
Northern Colorado advances to the second round to play against St. Mary’s.