Despite a tremendous second-half effort from the Nevada Wolf Pack, the Wyoming Cowboys squeaked out the 71-64 victory Friday in Laramie, Wyo. It marked Wyoming’s first conference victory at home after dropping two to Boise State.
The Pokes held the 41-21 lead with 17:50 to go in the contest. Nevada clawed back — outscoring them 28-7 to take a 49-48 lead with 7:20 remaining.
It was Nevada’s final lead of the contest. Wyoming followed with a 9-1 run, holding the 57-50 lead with 4:46 remaining.
Two free throws from Nevada forward Warren Washington trimmed it to 65-61 with 51 seconds to go, but clutch Cowboy free throws paired with missed opportunities from the the Pack offense halted their final comeback effort.
Friday’s loss drops Nevada to 10-6 with a 5-4 conference record. Wyoming jumps to 9-5 on the season and 3-4 in Mountain West play.
Both teams struggled shooting the rock; Wyoming shot 37.9 percent compared to Nevada’s 33.9 percent.
Washington tallied a team-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, also tying a team-high with nine rebounds. Desmond Cambridge had 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Pack shot just 4-of-25 (16 percent) from the 3-point range. Cambridge and true freshman Tre Coleman combined to make the four — hitting two apiece — on 15 combined attempts.
Nevada star guard Grant Sherfield underwent his worst shooting performance of the season. He had a string of six straight 20-point games snapped, tallying just eight points on dismal 2-of-16 shooting.
Wyoming netted 37.9 percent of its shots. After hitting eight 3s in the first half, it finished 12-for-37 from beyond the arc — good enough for a 32.4 3-point percentage. Entering Friday, Wyoming ranked atop the Mountain West — No. 22 nationally — in 3-point makes per game with 9.9.
The Pokes had four double figure scorers. Kenny Foster and Kwane Marble II tallied a team-high 15 points apiece.
Foster went 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-6 from deep, hauling in a team-most seven rebounds. Marble II went 4-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Xavier DuSell had 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Marcus Williams, the team’s top scorer entering Friday (16.3 ppg), had 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, but shot 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Williams added five rebounds a tied a team-high in assists with five.
Nevada surged back into the contest from getting to the free throw line, which has been a staple of the team this year. After putting together just 21 points and four free throw attempts in the first half, it shot 20 (hit 17) from the charity stripe and scored 43 points after halftime.
From the 17:50 mark until the 7:20 mark — the span of Nevada’s 28-7 run — the Pack converted all 12 of their attempts from the free throw line.
Nevada forward Robby Robinson started his second straight game for Nevada in Zane Meeks’ absence (knee soreness). Robinson finished with four points with nine rebounds in 19 minutes. Daniel Foster, a true freshman making his collegiate debut after missing the first 15 games after recovering from a left shoulder injury, finished with a rebound and two assists, but fouled out after appearing in just 11 minutes.
Nevada’s first lead of the contest came after Robinson’s layup. Two quick baskets put Wyoming ahead 5-0, but the Pack rattled off nine straight.
Maldonado’s sky hook put the Cowboys ahead 17-11 with 8:57 to go in the first half. Dusell’s 3-pointer extended the advantage to 25-15 — its first double digit advantage of the evening.
Dusell’s nailed three shots from outside in the opening half, the third one prompting a Wolf Pack timeout with a 31-18 lead.
Nevada trailed 33-21 entering halftime, shooting a dismal 30 percent and 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from 3-point range. Wyoming shot 41.4 percent from the floor and 40 percent from outside.
Back-to-back 3-pointers increased the lead to 20 at 41-21, forcing a quick Pack timeout out of the break.
Nevada attempted to battle back. A combination of free throw shooting, crisper ball movement and better defensive effort fueled a 20-3 run to cut the Cowboy lead to 44-41 with 10:26 to go. Foster got the team’s first basket in over two minutes to stall the run.
Nevada’s first lead since the 7:20 mark came after a two-handed slam by Washington, that came from a magnificent steal from Coleman, awarding it with the 49-48 lead. Wyoming responded with the 9-1 run and didn’t look back, ending Nevada’s valiant comeback effort.
The two foes will face off on Sunday at 1 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.