Cowgirls knocked out of MWC Tournament by Lobos

Pretty bad day for Wyoming basketball Wednesday. The men lost to TCU 70-61 in the play-in game for the third time in the last four years, and a few hours later the women were upset by 13-17 New Mexico in the quarterfinals 67-61.

Senior post Hillary Carlson teared up in the postgame interview session and  had to gather herself. UW just didn’t play well. It didn’t shoot well and the Lobos went on a 15-5 run to start the second half.

To UW’s credit it made a run of its own. It cut the lead to 59-56 with 3:37 to play. But that was as close as the Cowgirls would get.

An offensive foul on senior Aubrey Vandiver with less than a minute to play ended any hopes of a UW rally.

“It’s not about one call. It never is one way or the other,” Legerski said. … “It didn’t go our way. Move on.”

Vandiver was called for technical foul as she exchanged some pleasantries with freshman guard Jasmine Patterson. UW went on a 9-1 run after that. That seemed to spark the team.

“Well, we just came out with more energy, I guess,” Vandiver said. “We eliminated them on the boards. They didn’t get second opportunities during that run.”

Two stats that hurt UW: it allowed 20 points off 14 turnovers and allowed New Mexico 14 second-chance points.

Cowgirls are 22-8 and will play in the WNIT for the fourth time in the last six years. They will find out their opponent and bracket Monday night.

Cowboys season comes to a close

Not the way the Wyoming men’s team wanted to end its season.

But it was a familiar one.

Eighth-seeded UW lost to ninth-seeded TCU 70-61 in Wednesday’s play-in game at the Mountain West Conference Tournament here at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UW finished 10-21 for the second straight season, and lost the play-in game at this event for the third time in the last four years.

The Cowboys showed their typical weaknesses: poor shooting, poor defense and poor ball security.

They shot 37.5 percent, including 27.6 percent in the first half. They made three field goals in the first 13 minutes of the game.

They committed 17 turnovers, which resulted in 19 TCU points.

TCU shot 48.3 percent and 54.5 percent in the second half. The Horned Frogs made 5 of 10 3-pointers, and all but four of their points came from their starters.

But for as poorly as UW played, it only trailed 27-24 at halftime and took the lead at 42-41 with 13:26 to play. But TCU went on runs of 9-0 and 7-1 after that to put the game away.

“They got the lead on us in the second half and we panicked a little bit,” interim coach Fred Langley said. … “To TCU’s credit they reacted quickly. When they did that I think we took a punch and it kind of stunned us.”

A lot of the questions with Langley and the players quickly turned to the future. See my game story in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang for more on that.

Although he didn’t come out for the post-game interview session, I asked sophomore guard Desmar Jackson about his future at UW after this season prior to the team’s arrival here.

“I haven’t made any decisions yet,” he said.

Pokes confident heading into play-in game

The Wyoming men’s basketball team is at least saying the right things heading into today’s play-in game with TCU here at the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.

“The feeling that’s going on is positive. We think we can win. We’re going in with the mindset to win,” sophomore guard Desmar Jackson said.

This will be the Cowboys’ third play-in game in the last four years, and they’ve lost their previous two including a humbling 59-40 loss to Air Force last year.

“I think there are some pretty sour memories of the play-in game last year,” sophomore forward Amath M’Baye said. “I think everybody here is ready for this game and I think we will be better prepared for this game and this team will have a different mentality.”

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on this game, and on how the Cowgirls hope to end their MWC Tournament woes this year.

Also, live blog links are above this story for today’s UW men’s and women’s games. Hope you will join me.

No Cowboys on MWC all-conference teams

It can’t come as a big surprise that no Wyoming men’s basketball players made the first, second or third All-Mountain West Conference teams that were released Monday. You don’t get a lot a all-conference players when you’re 10-20 and 3-13 in league play.

But I thought sophomore guard Desmar Jackson would make the third team. He was a third team pick last season and was the league’s Freshman of the Year where he averaged 11.8 points per game and and 44 steals. As a sophomore Jackson was fifth in the league in scoring (14.7 ppg) and was second with 61 steals. He also was 12th in the MWC in rebounding (4.9 rpg).

Jackson and sophomore forward Amath M’Baye both earned honorable mention All-MWC honors. M’Baye played like an all-conference player in the second half of the conference season as he averaged 16.7 points per game over the last seven contests. He scored 10 points or more 20 times, but M’Baye didn’t do enough early in the season, at least in the eyes of the voters (which consisted of coaches and select media) to get into the first three teams.

I was one of those media members that voted. I had Jackson on the third team. TCU, which is 10-21 and 1-15 in the MWC got point guard Hank Thorns on the third team. He leads the MWC in assists at seven per game.

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Couldn’t be happier for UW women’s players Hillary Carlson and Aubrey Vandiver. Both were first team All-MWC picks, and Vandiver was the Player of the Year.

Two great players that need to play great in the tournament.

Congrats ladies!

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A couple of quotes from the final MWC coaches’ teleconference Monday:

“Players pretty much understand what BYU is and they come here because of that.” — Dave Rose on if he thinks BYU’s recruiting will be hurt or made harder with the dismissal of sophomore post Brandon Davies last week.

“I have no idea.” — UNLV’s Lon Kruger on if playing the MWC Tournament on the Rebles’ home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center will help his team. Here’s a clue coach, yes it will!!

“For the first time we know whether we win or not we’ll be in the (NCAA) Tournament.” — San Diego State’s 12th-year coach Steve Fisher on if his team is playing for seeding this week for the NCAA Tournament.

“You have to fight to keep your season alive, or it comes to an end.” — TCU’s Jim Christian

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An early prediction on who wins this tournament: UNLV beats New Mexico in the finals. UNLV has won five straight and nine of its last 11, and will upend San Diego State in the semis. New Mexico will beat BYU in the semis (after a hard-fought win over Colorado State in the quarterfinals Thursday) for its fifth straight win over the Cougars and third this season. The Cougars have no answer for New Mexico’s size.

If New Mexico beats UNLV then the MWC gets four teams in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. But UNLV will use the momentum of a home crowd and wins. It will be the Rebels, Cougars and Aztecs in the NCAAs. New Mexico and CSU go to the NIT. Air Force goes to the CBI.

Would love to hear your predictions.

Also the reminders above this story for the live blogs for all UW games, with two on Wednesday. Join me at about 2:45 p.m. for the men and at about 7:45 or so for the women. Links are on the main page of the blog.