FORT COLLINS -- Shortly before tipoff of the Cowgirls basketball game against Colorado State at Moby Gym on Saturday afternoon, a group of visitors – members of the Cowgirls team that swept its way through the 2007 WNIT – had arrived to root their alma mater on in the rivalry with the Rams.
Cowgirls coach Joe Legerski couldn’t wait to introduce those members of what was his fifth class at Wyoming to his current team.
“I wanted them in the locker room,” said Legerski. “I told the team, `This is the group of women that started it all. We would play in front of 200, 300 people, and then. …”
That group that include the likes of Jodi Bolerjack, Hannah Zavecz, Justyna Podziemska, Dominqiue Sisk, Elizabeth Dissen, Mallory Cline and Megan McGuffey turned Cowgirls’ basketball into an “in” event in the Arena-Auditorium.
They had such a strong crowd base that the Cowgirls hosted all five of their games in that WNIT, and the attendance crew impressively during the WNIT, capped off by a capacity crowd of 15,462 for the championship game, which the Cowgirls won 72-56 against Wisconsin.
A team that had an average attendance of 529 in 2003-04, Legerski’s first year on the job, to a team that now regularly ranks among the elite in attendance among women’s college basketball.
The Cowgirls set a school record with an average attendance of 4,399 in 2007-08 and have drawn 2,457 or more in each of the 12 seasons since.
“Our players think this is way it has always been,” Legerski said of the consistently solid attendance the Cowgirls now enjoy.
The current Cowgirls did their predecessors proud on Saturday afternoon, beating Colorado State 60-49, allowing CSU only 14 first-half points, and limiting the Lady Rams to sinking only 37.8 percent of the shots they took.
Legerski isn’t comparing this team to the 2006-07 team, but it is apparent he feels there is a strong talent bases on the Cowgirls this year, led by senior Marta Gomez, who scored 29 points.
More than that, though, what Legerski enjoyed was the way the Cowgirls shut down CSU in that first half, leaving the Rams grasping to try and stay relevant in the second half.
“They are getting the message and the message is you have to compete every night,” said Legerski. “You need to play to your potential, and it’s very difficult to win on the road.”
That’s starting to emerge as a strength of these Cowgirls. They have won their last five games, three on the road – at CSU, Air Force and Fresno State. What’s more, they have allowed only 161 points in those three road victories, a tad below 54 points per game.
“When I went (in the locker room after the game), I said `It’s difficult to win on the road,’’’ said Legerski. “Bailee (Cotton) told them I was going to say that when I walked in.”
Some things never change, like that motion offense the Cowgirls have master.
“They were in that motion 12 years ago,” he said of the WNIT team. “We stayed with the motion and we’ve done the job with it.”
It’s a job that has created many memories, none more cherished, however, that March of 2007 when the Cowgirls’ brought home that championship trophy.