Jan. 1—Thursday night's Mountain West against UNLV opener was anything but good for University of Wyoming forward Allyson Fertig.
The reigning Mountain West freshman of the year played just 16 minutes in the game, recording four points on 1-of-5 shooting after picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter.
On New Year's Eve, against Fresno State, Fertig reminded everyone of the dominance she can play with. The sophomore recorded 22 points and 12 rebounds to help UW outlast the Bulldogs in a 77-72 double-overtime thriller.
"I was very happy with how I came out and stayed consistent throughout the game," Fertig said. "It was great, because now I am more confident in the next conference games."
Fertig's monster night did not indicate how difficult the game was for UW. The game started out really well, with the Cowgirls dominating the latter parts of the first and second quarter to take a 33-22 lead into halftime. This time, Fertig contributed heavily, recording eight points and six rebounds with 15 minutes played.
Through the first half of the third quarter, it looked like UW was poised to run away with the game. However, just like the previous three games against the Bulldogs, the game quickly turned into a nail-biter.
After a layup from Grace Ellis made it 43-30 with 4 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the quarter, Fresno State started clawing its way back in the game. It went on a 9-0 run following Ellis' basket to cut the lead to just four with two minutes to play. After two free throws from Fertig and a 3-pointer from Emily Mellema, Fresno State managed to cut the lead back down to six heading into the fourth quarter.
The teams battled back and forth in the opening four minutes of the final frame. But with just over six minutes left in the game, Quinn Weidemann knocked down a 3 to give UW a nine-point 57-46 lead.
Unfortunately for the Cowgirls, they went ice cold from the field. Over the course of the next six minutes, UW did not score and missed seven straight shots.
Fresno State used this opportunity to claw its way back into the game once again. Yanina Todorova scored the next four points of the game to get the Bull Dogs within three with just under two minutes to go in the game. 41 seconds later, Imani Lacy nailed a three to tie the game at 57.
"I give Fresno State a lot of credit," associate coach Ryan Larsen said. "They have a system that they really stick to with the press and the zone. I thought we stopped being aggressive, especially in that third quarter."
Throughout most of the fourth quarter, Fertig had been excellent defensively but quiet offensively. When overtime rolled around, Fertig said she had a switch flip inside her mind.
"I was like, 'I want to win this game, let's go,'" Fertig said. I got flashbacks (to last year's overtime games in the WNIT). I was like, 'Okay, let's get this done so we don't have to go to another one.'"
During both overtime periods, Fertig completely took over the game for UW. She scored eight of the team's 20 total points during the two five-minute extra periods and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. Two of her game-high five blocks came at crucial moments in the extra time, as well.
Her efforts proved to be enough and combined with big shots from Ellis and big free throws from Malene Pedersen, UW managed to pull away late and seal its first win of conference play.
"All credit goes to the women," Larsen said. "To pull this one out, I think it has to do with a lot of experience in these double overtime games."
Fertig did not do it all by herself, however. Pedersen and Ellis turned in big performances as well. Ellis tied her career high with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and hauled down nine rebounds. Pedersen put up 18 points, six rebounds and three assists on 60-percent shooting from the field.
With the win, UW improved its record to 8-5 overall and 1-1 in conference. They will be back in action on Jan. 4 at home against New Mexico.
WYOMING 77, FRESNO STATE 72, 2OT
Fresno State...... 9 13 20 15 10 5 — 72
Wyoming...... 16 17 15 9 10 10 — 77
Fresno State: Brown 0-4 2-2 2, Dethman 1-2 2-2 4, Book 0-5 0-0 0, Todorova 8-12 5-6 21, West 7-10 1-1 16, Dunn 1-1 0-0 2, Lacy 5-17 4-4 15, Mikkelsen 0-0 1-3 1, Wittenberg 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 27-62 15-18 72.
Wyoming: Ellis 7-15 2-2 17, Pedersen 6-10 5-5 18, Weidemann 2-11, 0-0 5, Olson 1-4 2-2 4, Fertig 8-12 6-6 22, Mellema 2-2 0-0 5, Barnes 1-3 0-0 3, Savic 1-2 1-2 3, Ustowska 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 28-62 16-17 77.
3-pointers: Fresno State 3-12 (Brown 0-2, Book 0-1, West 1-2, Todorova 0-2, Dunn 1-1, Lacy 1-4); UW 5-20 (Ellis 1-2, Pedersen 1-3, Weidemann 1-7, Olson 0-2, Mellema 1-1, Barnes 1-2, Ustowska 0-3). Rebounds: Fresno State 31 (Lacy 7); UW 39 (Fertig 12). Assists: Fresno State 8 (Todorova 3), UW 17 (Olson 5); Turnovers: Fresno State 12 (West 2, Dunn 2), UW 12 (Weidemann 4). Blocks: Fresno State 1 (Lacy 1); UW 7 (Fertig 5). Steals: Fresno State 6 (Todorova 2, West 2); UW 4 (Ustowska 2). Team fouls: Fresno State 17, UW 14.
Matt Atencio covers Laramie County prep sports for WyoSports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattAtencio5.