The No. 13 Gillette College women's basketball team extended its win streak to three games with a 61-52 win over Central Wyoming College on Wednesday night in Region IX North Conference action.
The Pronghorns were without Kenosha Wright, the seventh leading scorer in the nation, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension for violating team rules. Despite shooting just 34 percent from the floor as a team, Gillette College got a solid scoring effort from Chelsie Pitt.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore who played high school ball at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, sank 5 of 9 attempts from 3-point range and finished with a game-high 20 points.
Mattison Jolovich also returned from an ankle injury that sidelined her for six weeks. The 6-foot freshman from Torrington scored 10 points and had four rebounds in a redemption night of sorts against Central Wyoming's Stephanie Smith.
Jolovich played against the 6-6 Smith from Mountain View in high school.
"I'm getting back in the groove," Jolovich said. "I'd seen (Smith) in high school. We lost to them at the (Class 3A) state tournament.
"I've been motivated to play well against her ever since, so this was a little bit of a revenge for me tonight."
It was evident that the Pronghorns (17-3 overall, 4-2 North Conference) were without their scoring threat in Wright. But they stayed the course, extending a three-point first half lead into a nine-point victory.
"The tempo and the rhythm of this game was just awkward," Pronghorns coach Will Rider said. "It'd be up-tempo, then it'd slow down. We saw a little bit of zone, then a little bit of man.
"The big girl in the middle (Smith) makes a big difference. Typically you drive in and get a lay-up, but with her you'd have to kick it back out."
The Pronghorns, who moved into the national rankings in November, shot just 28 percent from the field in the first half. They were just 5-of-18 in the paint over the first 20 minutes.
"Our bigs had lots of open looks and just missed them," Rider said. "When you don't have your leading scorer and leading rebounder, and can still get a nine-point win, that's nice."
Pitt had five points in Gillette College's 7-0 run to open the second half. But the Rustlers (7-11, 0-5) answered with eight straight points to tie it at 33.
Pitt and Halli Stocklin, a 5-3 freshman from Ten Sleep, hit back-to-back 3-point field goals to give the Pronghorns a little breathing room and a 53-44 lead with just under four minutes to go. Gillette finally shook loose with free throws in the end.
"They hung around, but we had it in our minds that we were going to win this one," Jolovich said. "We were going to do everything we could and pushed through everything. In the end, it turned up good for us."
Christina Davis finished with eight points and eight rebounds for the Pronghorns, who are on the road against Casper College on Saturday.
Breanna Thomas came off the bench and added eight points and four rebounds.