Cougars win first game at regional tournament
ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. -- The Western Nebraska Community College women's basketball team put four players in double figures and opened up Region IX tournament play with a 78-50 win over Gillette College Saturday in Rock Springs, Wyo.
The win was the Cougars 10th straight and 27th win this season. The contest between WNCC and Gillette was also a rematch of last year's championship game where WNCC won.
This time, however, the Cougars dominated play especially in the first half, rolling to a 44-18 halftime lead, thanks in part to a 19-0 run that changed a 12-12 tie into a 31-12 lead.
WNCC freshman Angela Vigil said that first half run was crucial.
"We realized [when it was tied] that we didn't want this to be a close game so we came out and just stepped it up," Vigil said. "What really helped is we had a really good defense today and that definitely helped us. We stopped the ball and as long as they aren't scoring and our offense can get going and our shots falling, everything goes good from there."
More importantly, though, the Cougars moved on to the quarterfinals where they will face the winner of the Northeastern Junior College and Northwest College game on Monday, at 1 p.m. NJC and Northwest will play today at 1 p.m.
"We played good as a team to get the win," Vigil said. "We really wanted to win so we came out with a lot of intensity. We really wanted to dominate. We were really nervous at the beginning, but this was a good game to get the nervous out. "
Vigil said they have to continue to play well on both sides because if they don't their season could be over.
"it is exciting to be playing at regionals, but it is nerve racking at the same time," she said. "It is one and done so if we lose we are out. Like coach tells us everyone is 0-0."
Vigil said rebounding and sharing the ball were a major factors in the win.
"Our rebounding was really big," she said. "Sometimes we have nights when we struggle with that, but today we wanted it more, basically. We just went after it and made sure to get the ball in our hands."
The Cougars out-rebounded Gillette 48-29. Allyson Vasquez and Abi Lujan led the team on the boards with seven apiece, while Shalisa Moffit and Vigil each had five.
The team also had 19 assists in the contest, led by Vigil with 19.
Shooting was also an aspect of the game the Cougars excelled at, making 47 percent of their shots. WNCC was 53 percent in the first half. The Cougars were also 50 percent from the 3-point line, making three treys.
WNCC's defense also made it tough on Gillette. The Cougars held the Pronghorns to just 27 percent shooting, including 2 of 18 from beyond the arc.
"Once our shots started falling, it helped our confidence," she said. "That is when we started to get on our roll."
WNCC opened up the game running to a 12-4 lead before Gillette scored the next points to tie the game at 12. That was when the Cougars opened up the game with the 19-0 run that included six points each from Ashley Stevens and Moffit.
After a Pronghorn bucket with six minutes to play to stop the run, the Cougars closed out the half on a 13-4 to lead at halftime 44-18.
The second half was all Cougars as everyone saw action in the contest.
WNCC was led in scoring by Lile Havili with 16 points followed by Laurin Rivera with 12, and Moffit and Stevens with 10.
Gillette was led in scoring by Kailee Wilson with 18 points.
In other first-round action at the women's regional tournament Saturday, Casper College eliminated McCook 62-42, Otero Junior College took out Miles Community College 77-66, and Western Wyoming Community College defeated Little Big Horn 81-54.
Today's first round action will have Northeastern Junior College facing Northwest Wyoming at 1 p.m., Central Wyoming taking on Eastern Wyoming at 3 p.m., Trinidad State facing Dawson at 5 p.m., and Lamar meeting Sheridan at 7 p.m.
GIllette 18 32 -- 50
WNCC 44 34 -- 78
Chelsea Ullery 2, Lauren Davis 2, Kiela Garner 11, Kailee WIlson 18, Alicia Carline 6, Whitney George 9,Breanna Thomas 2.
Allyson Vasquez 6, Laurin Rivera 12, Shalisa Moffit 10, Lyndie Puckett 5, Abi Lujan 7, Angela Vigil 6, Liz Dogan 2, Ashley Stevens 10, Kaylee Biddell 4, Lile Havili 16.
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