Sophomore guard Josh Adams led three Cowboys in double-figures with 15 points, but the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team lost a tightly-contested 61-58 game to Nevada on Saturday afternoon in the Lawlor Events Center. The Pokes (9-5, 0-1 MW) traded the lead eight times with the Wolf Pack (7-8, 2-0 MW) in the second half, before missing their final shot with two seconds left to suffer their first loss to Nevada in the last nine meetings.
A fast-break layup from Adams put the Pokes ahead 58-56 with 1:31 left in the game, but it would prove to be UW’s last points. Nevada hit one free throw and a layup on its next two possessions to go in front 59-58 with 32 seconds to go. The Cowboys ran the clock down to two seconds, before a jumper from junior forward Larry Nance Jr. went long and Nevada snagged the rebound. The Wolf Pack would make two free throws to ice the game.
“I thought this game was played about as well as we could play for a lot of time,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “Those last 45 seconds to a minute, we got the ball in to Nance deep and he missed two fadeaways. We didn’t get to the line and that’s what we wanted to do. For a large part of this game, they battled their tails off. Those kinds of stats give you a chance to win and we had a chance, but just didn’t get it on that last possession.”
Adams posted his ninth game in double figures this season and added four assists and a steal, while Nance and junior guard Riley Grabau contributed 14 points each. Nance had a team-high six rebounds and a season-high four steals, while Grabau hit four threes and had three rebounds. Wyoming shot 41 percent (20-of-49) from the field and 35 percent (6-of-17) from the field compared to 46 percent (23-of-50) and 40 percent (6-of-15) for Nevada. The Pokes earned a 6-1 advantage in steals, but were outrebounded 35-26, including 12 offensive boards by the Wolf Pack.
“It was a very physical game, but that is what conference play is about,” Shyatt said. “That is going to be every night in the Mountain West. You want to go in and steal one on the road when you can. We can compete with the very best, but we have to steal a few W’s here and there. The game was ultimately won on the offensive glass. Twelve offensive boards for Nevada, including six by [AJ] West.”
After trailing by six shortly after halftime, the Cowboys put together a 13-4 run to go in front 41-36. Nance had eight points during the spurt and Grabau capped it with a three. Nevada would retake the lead at the eight-minute mark, as the two squads traded buckets down the stretch before the final minute.
Wyoming took an early lead behind Grabau and Nance, but Nevada battled back to go ahead by as many as five points midway through the half. The Cowboys responded with a 6-0 run thanks to layups from Adams, redshirt junior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. and junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. to pull back in front 22-20 with six minutes left in the first half. The Wolf Pack quickly went back in front and held a slim advantage until making a three on the final basket of the first half to go into halftime up 30-26. Grabau paced the Pokes with eight points in the first half, as the Cowboys shot 36 percent (9-of-25) from the field, but made just 2 of their 10 three-point attempts. Nevada connected on 50 percent (13-of-26) and 43 percent (3-of-7), respectively, and earned a 17-14 advantage on the boards.
The Cowboys open the home portion of the Mountain West schedule by hosting New Mexico on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.