Here are my three takes from Wyoming’s 64-59 home loss to Fresno State Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
1. The better team — on this night — won: As UW coach Larry Shyatt said — along with the players — Fresno State beat the Cowboys based on the fact UW had 14 turnovers (compared to 13 in its previous two games), was outrebounded 12-6 on the offensive glass and made only 8 of 13 free throws in the second half. That pretty much sums it up. Fresno State, one of the top teams in the nation in steals, had eight in the game. It turned 14 turnovers into 17 points, and those 12 offensive rebounds into 15 points. I also thought what Shyatt said was accurate about how this game was a lot like several others UW played this season — especially in conference play. Close late in the game, but more often than not, UW made the plays down the stretch to win. In this game, it didn’t.
Here is Shyatt after the game:
2. Tough passes: The Cowboys take pride in being unselfish when it comes to passing the ball, but in this game it often made difficult passes that players couldn’t come up with. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. had five turnovers, but some of those were from passes that he couldn’t get a clean grasp of. I’m not sure all of those turnovers were all Cooke’s fault. UW made good decisions the previous two games. Fresno State’s length and physicality had a lot to do with some of those errant passes.
3. Nance a bit rusty: Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. started and played 37 minutes in his first game back after missing the previous four with mononucleosis. Nance had nine points on 4 of 10 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and a steal. Nance’s only points in the first half was on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half. He missed his first three shots of the game — two in the paint and one short jumper. Nance looked a bit rusty, but also credit Fresno State, who did a good job of being physical with him and doubling him once he started making a move to the basket. Nance was rough on himself after the game, but some rust was to be expected.
Here is Nance, junior guard Josh Adams and senior guard Riley Grabau after the game:
There are not many of them for UW, but here is some late second half highlights from the game:
A couple of other thoughts from the game
–Fresno State is a tough matchup for UW based on the fact the Bulldogs are very physical. It was a physical game and that worked in their favor.
–Fresno State junior guard Marvelle Harris was really good in this game. The 6-foot-4 Harris had a game-high 23 points. He was 7 of 18 from the field, 3 of 6 from 3 and 6 of 8 from the line. He also had five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Harris and junior guard Julien Lewis — another 6-4 physical guard — missed 11 shots apiece, but the ones they made were big. Especially Harris.
–A lot of fans on social media were all over UW senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. after the game. Hankerson had three points on 1 of 5 shooting. He missed two free throws with 50 seconds left that would have tied the game at 59. But going back to guys like Harris and Lewis for Fresno State, Hankerson gives UW a bigger guard at 6-4, 230 pounds who has done a lot of other good things for the team other than scoring. His defense has been good, and in league play has 38 assists to 16 turnovers.
–UW’s hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament were slight — at best — going into the game game. Those hopes are likely dashed now losing to a Fresno State team with an RPI of 211 heading into this week. But postseason thoughts should be the furthest on this team’s mind right now. It plays two of its last three games on the road, and it needs to toughen up and clean some things up moving forward. Let fans and the media talk about postseason possibilities. UW needs to get back to what got them to 21 wins and 10 in league play — playing tough, smart and making plays at the end. The Cowboys’ next chance is Saturday at UNLV.
For more on the game, and other UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.