That wasn’t the way the Wyoming men’s basketball team wanted its season to end — a 59-43 loss at Texas A&M Wednesday night in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.
In a nutshell, UW (18-15) picked a bad time to have its worst offensive game of the season. The 43 points was a season-low, as was its 29.8 percent shooting from the field and its 14 baskets made. It also didn’t help that the Cowboys were outrebounded 41-27 and was 5 of 24 from 3-point range.
The guys UW needed to produce didn’t. Sophomore guard Josh Adams, who averaged 24 points and shot 55 percent in his previous four games, had just five points on 2 of 8 shooting. Senior guard Nathan Sobey had nine points on 4 of 11 shooting and junior guard Riley Grabau was scoreless on 0 of 4 shooting.
Texas A&M’s size along the frontcourt had a lot to do with UW’s offensive struggles. It also did a good job of preventing the Cowboys from driving to the basket and getting points inside. UW had only 14 points in the paint, which was a season-low. UW has relied more on the 3 since the injury to junior forward Larry Nance Jr. on Feb. 18, but it also needed to drive the ball to the basket more and get to the free throw line.
The Cowboys were 10 of 12 from the line, but all of those attempts came in the second half.
They played hard, the effort was there and so was the guts and determination to make a late-game charge.
But it wasn’t enough for the Wyoming Cowboys as they lost 71-67 to UNLV in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
UW (18-14), the tournament’s fifth seed, lost its 13th straight game to UNLV in Las Vegas. It will find out late Sunday night if it plays in the postseason. It should get an invite to the CBI or CIT tournaments.
Here are some second half highlights:
Thursday’s game was a bit odd.
Sophomore guard Josh Adams carried the Cowboys in the first half. He scored 18 of his game-high 24 points then, including a dunk that had the entire crowd — about an even split of UW and UNLV fans — in awe. Adams also had seven rebounds, three assists and tied a career-high with two blocked shots.
UNLV kept Adams at bay in the second half, then it was Jerron Granberry’s turn. All of his career-high 18 points came in the second half. He scored UW’s first 10 points to start the half, and his three-point play with 23.1 seconds left pulled the Cowboys to within one at 66-65.
It was not the best game that was played in the Arena-Auditorium as we know it, but it was exciting and for Wyoming as it beat Border War rival Colorado State 83-75 Saturday.
This was the last game in the current configuration of the A-A. Starting Monday it will receive a $30 million renovation.
A lot of streaks were broken with this victory. UW (18-13, 9-9) snapped a four-game losing streak and a four-game slide to the Rams (16-15, 7-11).
But more importantly, the Cowboys finished .500 in conference play for the first time since 2004-05. Coach Larry Shyatt talked a lot about that in his post-game news conference after the game and that he liked to silence those who doubted this team.
Here is what Shyatt had to say:
A San Diego State home win over New Mexico Saturday night will give UW a fourth or fifth-place finish and earn it a first-round bye a the MW Tournament next week in Las Vegas. Not a bad place to be for a team that lost its leader in junior forward Larry Nance Jr..
One has to wonder what could have been had Nance not suffered that season-ending knee injury on Feb. 18. Some wondered if UW would win another game without Nance.
This was a game I wasn’t at. Poor weather in Cheyenne kept me from getting to Laramie.
But this was a tough game for Wyoming to lose. Albeit shorthanded, the 55-53 loss to Air Force Tuesday at the Arena-Auditorium will sting for a while.
From a distance UW didn’t seem to have a lot of energy, especially in the first half. Although it didn’t look like there was a lot of energy — or people — in the A-A.
Senior guard Nathan Sobey was great: 18 points, including 14 in the second half. He scored the Cowboys’ first seven points to start the second half. Jerron Granberry scored a career-high 14 points, but was quiet in the second half and missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than two minutes to play.
Junior guard Riley Grabau and sophomore guard Josh Adams were a combined 3 of 16 from the field. UW won’t win any games the rest of the way if those two shoot like that. They also combined for six of the team’s nine turnovers (three apiece).
Shooting 9 of 17 from the free-throw line didn’t help, and that ties for the team’s worst percentage this season.
UW was outrebounded 37-29, and 29-24 on the defensive glass. The Cowboys are 1-9 when they get outrebounded in defensive boards. Even though they forced 15 turnovers the Cowboys scored just 13 points off them.
When you are the Wyoming men’s basketball team and your best player — junior forward Larry Nance Jr. — goes down with 14:51 to play with a knee injury that in all probability will end his season.
That’s what happened against Fresno State. The Cowboys won 72-66, which was impressive and should be appreciated as they won their third straight and improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West.
“It don’t think it looks good,” said UW coach Larry Shyatt, who added Nance will have an MRI Wednesday morning.
Nance was dominant before going out. He had 17 points — 15 in the first half — on 7 of 9 shooting. He didn’t put any weight on the knee as he was helped off the floor. He stayed either behind or on UW’s bench until the end of the game with a towel over his head.
Fans chanted “Larry, Larry” after the game as he was helped off the court by trainer Lance Schuemann and senior guard Nathan Sobey.
It was on the same end of the court where some other prominent UW players have injured their knees — Cheyenne’s Marcus Bailey in the early 2000s, Queint Higgins in the early 1990s and Mike Jackson in the early 1980s.
That A-A renovation, which includes a rotation of the court, can’t come soon enough.
Wyoming is 2-for-2 when it comes to beating a nationally ranked San Diego State team at home.
The Cowboys shot the ball well and played their normal good defense in a 68-62 win over the fifth-ranked Aztecs in front of a loud and happy crowd of 5,801 fans at the Arena-Auditorium Tuesday night in Laramie.
Last season, UW beat No. 15 San Diego State 58-45 in Laramie.
The student section at Tuesday’s game was great, and it the students stormed the court after the game. Some may debate if storming the court is good or even worthy, but in this instance it was.
Here is some video highlights, including the court storming:
That’s what Wyoming faced Wednesday night at The Pit against New Mexico. Yet, the Cowboys had a chance to win the game in regulation, but junior forward Larry Nance Jr.’s fade-away jumper in the key didn’t fall.
Not much else fell for UW in overtime in a 66-61 loss. The game was tied at 57 in regulation. The Cowboys (14-8 overall, 5-4 Mountain West) made only one basket in overtime.
Here are some video highlights from the first half. Sorry, no second half or overtime highlights because I had to re-write my story for the newspapers about six different times on a tight deadline.