They could have played all day.
But there were other games to be played Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center, so Colorado State’s Gritt Ryder decided to end the marathon Mountain West women’s tournament semifinal against Wyoming.
Ryder broke an 88-88 tie with 1:59 remaining in the third overtime, then made a layup with 11 seconds left, leading the Rams past the Cowgirls 95-92 in what was the longest game in conference tournament history.
Top-seeded Colorado State (25-6) will face No. 2 Fresno State (21-10) in today’s 7 p.m. championship game. The Bulldogs defeated UNR 82-71.
“We want to play for each other,” said Ryder, who led all scorers with 23 points. “We want to play for CSU, and we want to win. I think that’s what showed up toward the end when we kept making plays when it counted the most.”
The game, which was tied 15 times and had eight players foul out, saw Wyoming score the final five points of regulation, including two free throws from Kaitlyn Mileto with four seconds left to pull even at 61.
Wyoming forced the second overtime when Kayee Hoffman scored with five seconds left to tie the game at 73. The Cowgirls extended the game into a third OT on Chelean Landry’s layup with two seconds left that tied the score at 84.
Wyoming was unable to ultimately close it out. The Cowgirls were clinging to an 88-86 lead with 3:55 left, but Colorado State outscored them 9-4 the rest of the way.
“I’ve said all along that the big strength of this basketball team is its poise, its composure,” Colorado State coach Ryun Williams said. “They go out and compete. They find a way. That’s what this group is all about.”
Kayla Woodward and Jasmine Davis led Wyoming (20-11) with 21 points apiece.
In the second semifinal, Fresno State got 22 points from Taylor Thompson and forced 18 turnovers.
Third-seeded UNR (18-13) trailed by 19 points midway through the second half. Arielle Wideman led the Wolf Pack with 17 points, and Emily Burns had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.