Breakout Game: Tereza Vitulova Piles Up Career Highs; Cowgirls Claim Win at North Dakota State
From the Desk of Sean O'Sullivan
FARGO, N.D. – Sophomore Tereza Vitulova reached career highs in scoring (25 points), field goals (12) and rebounds (8), leading the Wyoming Cowgirls to a 66-57 win over North Dakota State. It is the first road win for first-year head coach Gerald Mattinson.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to get through to her is, Tereza is a very dominant post player when she plays with more of a physical mentality, where she’ll bounce those kids a little bit, get herself in the paint and turn and go to the basket,” Mattinson said.
The Cowgirls were extremely efficient from the field, shooting a season-best 54.9 percent (28-51) and reaching at least 50 percent shooting in every quarter. Wyoming made six of their seven threes in the second half, as they turned their two-point halftime lead to the nine-point final margin.
“What we decide to do today, is we were a little bit more of a set-oriented team today,” Mattinson said. “We took our time a lot with the ball, and we didn’t run as much motion. We had something specific in mind with what we wanted to do with it, and when you get someone like Tereza playing how she played, it makes your offense more efficient.”
Wyoming was also strong on the boards, tying their season high with 30 defensive rebounds, and outrebounding winless North Dakota State, 37-23. The 23 rebounds allowed are a season-low for a Cowgirl opponent, and the +14 margin is the second best this year, behind the +15 margin in the season-opener against Colorado Christian.
Freshman Karla Erjavec flirted with a triple-double, scoring seven points, grabbing a career-high seven rebounds and dishing out a season-best seven assists. It is the ninth time in Erjavec’s career she has distributed at least five assists in a game.
Senior Taylor Rusk scored 12 points and had six rebounds and a season-high five assists. For Rusk, it is the first time this season and the 16 time in her career she has had at least five assists in a game, and it’s her 41 career double-figure scoring game.
Sophomore Quinn Weidemann scored 12 points and hit a pair of threes, reaching double-digit scoring for the second time this year and the ninth time in her career. Weidemann also had three assists on the night.
Freshman Jaeden Vaifanua scored four points and grabbed a career-high six rebounds off the bench in seven minutes.
Vitulova started the game’s scoring by converting a hook shot in the paint, but the Bison answered on a similar play on the other end. The squads traded baskets until a Vitulova jumper and a Rusk three put the Cowgirls up 13-6, forcing a Bison timeout. Out of the break, the Bison hit a pair of threes, but Wyoming kept scoring, and a Vitulova turnaround jumper made it 17-12 for the Cowgirls. The Bison scored four of the next five points, and Wyoming held an 18-16 advantage after one quarter.
Sophomore Tommi Olson scored first in the second frame with a driving layup, but the Bison responded with a layup of their own. The Bison took a lead with a three, but a 6-0 Cowgirl run capped by a Sanchez Ramos layup made it 26-21 for Wyoming. The Bison then used a 6-0 run of their own to take a 27-26 lead before Weidemann ended the run with a driving layup. The back-and-forth play continued until the Bison went up 33-32 with 1:30 to play in the half. Erjavec found a rolling Vitulova for a layup on UW’s final possession of the half, and the Cowgirls took a 34-33 lead into the locker room.
Vitulova scored a jumper to open the third quarter, but the Bison answered with four straight points. Again, Vitulova scored for UW, but this time NDSU answered with five points to go up 42-38 on the Cowgirls. Vitulova hit a three to bring it back within one, and after the teams traded points, Rusk tied the game at 46 with a three from straight away. After a defensive stop, Vaifanua scored on the block to give Wyoming a 48-46 lead at the quarter break.
Rusk and Weidemann drilled back-to-back threes to start the fourth quarter, putting the Cowgirls up 54-46 before the Bison scored a layup to stop the run. An Erjavec three and a Vitulova layup put the Cowgirls up 59-48 with 4:10 to play in the game. The Bison scored four in a row, but a Weidemann three put the Cowgirls up 62-52 with three minutes to go. After a Bison three, Vitulova scored a jumper and then blocked a shot. The Bison started the foul game with 1:28 to play, Erjavec made both her shots. The Bison added a jumper, but the Cowgirls dribbled out the clock on the 66-57 win.
Overall, Wyoming shot 54.9 percent (28-51) from the field, 36.8 percent (7-19) from three and 75.0 percent (3-4) from the free throw line. The Cowgirls had 15 assists and 16 turnovers on the night.
The Bison were led by Michelle Gaislerova’s 17 points and two rebounds, while Emily Dietz and Sofija Zivaljevic each scored 12 against the Cowgirls.
North Dakota State shot 38.3 percent (23-60) from the field, 35.7 percent (5-14) from three and 100.0 percent (6-6) from the free throw line. The Bison had 8 assists and six turnovers.
The Cowgirls return to the court on Saturday, Nov. 30, hosting New Mexico Highlands in the Arena-Auditorium at 2 p.m.