Another game, another close one for the Wyoming men’s basketball team.
That is the norm with this squad, and the Cowboys (13-6 overall, 4-2 Mountain West) extended their winning streak to four with a 64-62 overtime win over Nevada (10-10, 5-2) in front of a season-high crowd of 6,944.
Ten of UW’s 19 games have been decided by eight points or less, seven by five points or less and six by three points or less. And, five of its six conference games have been decided by one basket.
That one basket in this game: a running hook shot by junior forward Larry Nance Jr. that reminded many of how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar used to do it.
Here’s the video highlights from overtime, including Nance’s game-winner:
Nance said the hook shot wasn’t by design, but what the defense gave him. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The points were a team-high, the rebounds were a game-high for his eighth double-double of the season and 11th of his career.
Leading up to that shot was full of drama.
UW had to rally from three points down with 29 seconds left in regulation after Nevada senior guard Deonte Burton made a pair of free throws. Burton said earlier in the week that the Arena-Auditorium was the worst place to play in the Mountain West. Burton ate his words, but he played well with a game-high 25 points and was 5 of 8 from 3-point range. He fouled out in overtime, and had three fouls in the first half.
Nevada coach David Carter said he tried to get Burton out of the game after he got his second foul, but couldn’t do it in time.
But a layup by UW sophomore guard Josh Adams, and a foul by Nevada guard Michael Perez that gave Adams a free throw, sent the game into overtime. Adams continues to look good driving to the basket, and also had a game-high four assists.
Still, UW scored only seven points in the final 6:23 of regulation. It nearly cost it the game with too many empty possessions.
Here are some second half highlights:
In overtime, the Cowboys led by three with under a minute to play. Adams turned the ball over as he was called for carrying the ball. Coach Larry Shyatt lost it and slammed a hat or something against the wall behind the bench. It was a good outburst for sure, and one official Martin Cota assessed a technical foul.
Shyatt said he was talking to the officials to call the same thing on a Nevada player (he wouldn’t say who), prior to Adams getting called for it. Tough time for a call like that, but the official was right there when he made it.
Nevada made one of two free throws on the technical (the Wolf Pack missed seven free throws in the game), and Jerry Evans Jr. tied the game at 62 with a short jumper.
On the game-winning play, Shyatt said UW wanted to be aggressive and get Adams to the basket. If that wasn’t there, then get the ball to Nance.
Some other notes and observations:
–It was good to see junior guard Riley Grabau get out of his shooting slump. Grabau made his first two 3-pointers of the game after going 1 of 13 from the field and 0 of 11 from 3 over the previous three games. Grabau finished with 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting and was 2 of 6 from 3.
–Senior Jerron Granberry and junior Charles Hankerson Jr. continue to give UW good minutes off the bench. Granberry has played starter minutes the last two games with 37 minutes at Air Force on Wednesday and 33 against Nevada. Their stat lines from the Nevada game were not overly impressive. They combined for six points and two rebounds. But as Shyatt said, especially about Granberry, they have a will about them that is hard to describe and even harder to replace for this team at this point.
–Freshman guard Trey Washington III struggled with his shot. His two attempts — both 3s — missed badly. But Shyatt still has faith and confidence in him. Better days will come for Washington.
–Sophomore forward Austin Haldorson was not in uniform due to an illness. Shyatt said he and true freshman post Alan Herndon, who is redshirting, both have strep throat. Shyatt is concerned that the entire team does not come down with that. Shyatt also said after the game that he is feeling better after an illness kept him from coaching at Air Force Wednesday. Shyatt said he still didn’t feel great Friday night, but I would think a win like that will help him feel better.
–The crowd was lively, and at times, loud. They got on Burton pretty good for his remarks earlier in the week. Burton appreciated the atmosphere after the game. Nevada is a solid team, but got no points from its bench.
–The last time UW played Nevada, it lost 61-58 in Reno on Jan. 4. In that game A.J. West and Cole Huff combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds. They had 12 and 9 in this game. UW outrebounded Nevada 30-26. That was a big factor in the game.
–Grabau and Nance played 44 of the game’s 45 minutes, and senior guard Nathan Sobey played a career-high 42 minutes.
Here’s what Nance, Adams and Grabau had to say after the game:
–UW turned the ball over 12 times and Nevada scored 17 points off those miscues.
–UW has shot 50 percent or better 10 times this season. The Cowboys lead the Mountain West in field goal percentage, but are last in scoring offense, shots taken and shots made. Guess the Cowboys make the most of their opportunities.
Next is a game at Fresno State, which is 8-13 and 1-7 in the MW. But UW scored just 36 points there last season. The Bulldogs lost their second straight overtime game, 75-73 at UNLV Saturday night. That won’t be an easy game for UW, but none of them have been.
Shyatt said this team seems to like playing in close games. Shyatt joked that is isn’t so good for him, but likes the will, effort and resiliency of this group.
See Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for more game coverage, and who the court at the A-A will be named after. Also log on to wyosports.net.