Dave Walsh: Game On! Do The UW Cowgirls Have Another NIT Championship Run In Them?

Dave Walsh writes: “It’s a bold call to predict a victorious tournament run for any team. And it’s even a bit unfair to predict the kind of run the Cowgirls made in 2007 for this team. But this squad is good – very good.”

Dave Walsh

March 16, 20234 min read

UW women Troy Babbit UW Media Athletics 3 17 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

There shall be postseason college basketball tournament play in the Arena Auditorium on the University of Wyoming campus.

There is nothing like it. It’s special.

And it happens tonight when the Wyoming Cowgirls host an opening round game in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. 

Wyoming takes a 22-10 overall record into the game against the 19-11 Islanders.

And here are the Cowgirls! Playing in the postseason again playing in a tournament in which UW basketball teams have seen great success, a spot where the Cowgirls seem comfortable.

There’s no place like home, and there’s no place like the Arena Auditorium for the Wyoming Cowgirls. This flashes me back to late March 2007. 

It was a perfect two-week run end the 2006-2007 Cowgirls season. They won their last six games – all in the WNIT, and all played in the Arena Auditorium.

The Cowgirls started their incredible streak with a 28-point win over Nevada, then three days later beat Missouri by six points. Then, a two-point win over Oregon and an 11-point victory over South Dakota State in front of 11,253 fans.

The Cowgirls had made the NIT Final Four.

In the semifinals, Wyoming would face Kansas State, and before 12,225 Cowgirls fans won an 89-79 triple-overtime thriller.

Then came the WNIT championship game.

It would be the Wyoming Cowgirls vs. the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big Ten Conference. 

The Arena Auditorium was packed with a record crowd of 15,462 fans.

And the Cowgirls rolled the Badgers: Wyoming 72, Wisconsin 56.

Wyoming had won its 27th game of the season and finished 27-9 overall – and as NIT champions.

NIT Likes Wyoming

The NIT has always been keen to having Wyoming in its field. 

UW teams inevitably get a quick glance each year from the Men’s and Women’s NIT. And if they are qualified and not involved in the Big Dance, the Pokes, Cowgirls and the Double A are quick invitees to the NIT.

We’ve also noticed that if Wyoming wins, the very same scenario often occurs for the second game. That is, if Wyoming wins, it usually gets another home game. And another, and another.

The NIT and WNIT both love having Wyoming in their tournaments. They love the teams and venue. 

But most of all, they love the fans who show up in great numbers. Wyoming fans don’t sit on their hands, they participate. It makes for great radio and television broadcasts. 

It also makes for great drama.

The Cowgirls have already had a wonderful season. There are the 22 wins, of course. There also is a very strong second-place finish in the very difficult Mountain West Conference.

And even though the Cowgirls lost their last game, Wyoming comes into the WNIT having won the five games prior to that loss to nationally ranked UNLV in the conference final. Wyoming had won 10 of their last 12 games prior to the UNLV loss nine days ago.

It’s a bold call to predict a victorious tournament run for any team. And it’s even a bit unfair to predict the kind of run the Cowgirls made in 2007 for this team. 

But this squad is good – very good.

The 2007 Cowgirls were 21-9 going into the WNIT. These 2023 Cowgirls are 22-10.

The 2007 Cowgirls had Hanna Zavecz and Justyna Podziemska, and Wyoming natives Megan McGuffey and Aubrey Vandiver. These Cowgirls have Quinn Weidemann and Emily Mellema, and locals Allyson Fertig and Tommi Olson. 

And many others have contributed this season. 

We’ve noticed over the years that NIT selection committees love to invite teams that are playing well. 

The Cowgirls are playing well.

And tonight, it’s game on!

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist