Senior forward Marta Gomez is in a two-game funk.
The native of Spain, who averaged 16.1 points per game in the first 10 games of the season, has scored only 10 points – total – in the last two games.
But here’s the key. The Cowgirls head to Utah State on Saturday, having won both games, following up a 90-62 victory against UNLV at the AA last Saturday with an 87-45 romp past San Diego State at the AA on Wednesday.
“That’s the biggest plus,” said coach Joe Legerski. “We survived with Marta not shooting the basketball extremely well. That puts a little more pressure on our opponents to know we have a number of players out there, and just by taking Marta out of the game that we still have options.”
This team gets it. It’s not about any individual. It’s about how the assortment of players mixes with each other.
Now they head to Utah State for a 2 p.m., tipoff on Saturday, their confidence boosted by the way the team has been able to big up the slack when needed. And the timing is good. While the Cowgirls are 8-0 at home this year, and won their lone game on a neutral court, they are winless in three road games, including that season-opening conference game at Boise on Jan. 2.
They know Gomez will remain a focal point for opposing defenses, but they know they have options to counter the defense lockdown on Gomez.
--Taylor Rusk, who has back-to-back 12-point efforts, hitting 10 of 15 shots, including 4 of 7 from the three-point range, and has eight assists.
-- Bailee Cotton, who has scored 27 points in the two games, including 20 in the win against UNLV, and added seven rebounds to her night’s work against San Diego State.
--Karla Erjavec, the lone freshman in the starting lineup, has scored 31 points in the two games, including a team-high 17 points against San Diego State, and has dished out eight assists in the games.
--And freshman Quinn Weidemann, who came off the bench to scored 24 points in 26 minutes against UNLV to add six points, hitting two of three three-point shots against San Diego State, when senior Slajana Rakoivic, in only her fourth game of the season, picked up the slack with 14 points.
Weidemann has been even more than the Cowboys expected from the 2017-18 Nebraska High School Player of the year, particularly in her shooting.
“What we saw is a competitor,” Legerski said of the recruiting process. “She’s become a better shooter than we thought.”
Don’t over look the fact the Cowgirls mixed in 22 assists and 18 against San Diego State – a combined total of 40 – while UNLV (nine) and San Diego State (three) combined for 12 assists, one less than Rusk has on her own.
“This team is special,” said Bailee Cotton. “We have so many people who can score on any given night. They are going to focus on Marta and we know we have other shooters. That makes it tough on them.”
And that’s with Rakovic being on a careful pace in her return from an ankle injury, having played only 37 minutes in the four games. In her fourth game back, earlier this week against San Diego State, she played 15 minutes, and had 13 points, not missing a shot (4-for-4 from the field, including a three-point shot, and 4-for-4 from the free throw line). She also had four assists, giving her 11 in the last two games.
“It’s great to be back,” said Rakovic.
The Cowgirls certainly agree.