TCU women ousted by mental fog, Wyoming hot shots

LAS VEGAS -- For 15 minutes there was the kind of back-and-forth contest you'd expect from teams seeded fourth and fifth at the Mountain West Conference tournament.

But then fourth seed TCU hit a wall while Wyoming turned it up a notch. The Cowgirls outscored the Horned Frogs 15-0 in the last five minutes of the first half and never looked back, defeating TCU 61-44 before 3,110 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Wyoming (12-16) advances to play top seed San Diego State in a semifinal at 2 p.m. Friday. The Aztecs (23-6) eliminated bottom seed Air Force 68-58 on Wednesday. TCU (16-14) saw its season come to an abrupt end unless it receives an unlikely bid to the WNIT.

"With the way our conference has been this year I don't think anybody can play bad and still win," TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. "You cannot, in this tournament, have a bad day and win, and we obviously had a bad day."

The Frogs led 16-14 with 7:05 left in the first half when Wyoming began to catch fire. Ashley Sickles, Alison Gorrell, Kaitlyn Mileto and Kayla Woodward each connected from 3-point range to stretch the Cowgirls' lead to 14 at the break. Wyoming was 9 of 19 on 3-pointers.

"I didn't like our mental focus in that stretch," Mittie said. "There were breakdowns you can't see from the stands that we were having. I didn't feel like we had all five engaged mentally."

TCU's offense simultaneously went cold. The Frogs shot 30 percent from the field and missed four free throws during the run that could have slowed Wyoming's momentum. Former North Crowley standout Natalie Ventress, who led the Frogs with 13.8 points a game en route to earning MWC Freshman of the Year honors, was 1 for 11 and finished with two points.

"I felt good going in but when I got out there they were playing really aggressive on me and my shot wasn't falling," said Ventress, who was 0 for 5 in the second half.

Woodward, who finished second in the balloting for the honor, led Wyoming with 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point arc.

"Yeah, it was a little bit of a motivation," Woodward said. "It was a team effort."

In the second half, TCU never could slow Wyoming. Mileto's 3 stretched the lead to 21 with 13:46 remaining. The Cowgirls led by as many as 25.

TCU freshman Ashley Colbert, from Crowley High School, expected the Frogs to stage a comeback.

"Nobody anticipates a run like that," she said. "When that happened we had the mentality to cut it back down."

North Crowley ex Briesha Wynn led the Frogs with 12 points and 10 rebounds. TCU's lone senior, Antoinette Thompson, from Wyatt High School, finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

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