Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr.’s 19 points paced four Cowboys in double figures to help the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team earn an 85-81 first-round victory over Nevada at the Mountain West Championships on Tuesday in the Thomas & Mack Center. After trailing by four at halftime, the Pokes (19-12) opened the second half with a 19-4 run to build a double-digit lead and held off the Wolf Pack (12-19) down the stretch.
The Pokes’ 19-4 came courtesy of a 9-of-11 start to the second half, while holding Nevada to zero of its first six. Senior forward Leonard Washington and Nance combined for 14 during the run and senior guard Derrious Gilmore added a three, as UW ran the lead to as much as 12 at 54-42 seven minutes into the half. Nevada slowly fought back and cut the deficit to single digits with eight minutes left, including to one at 73-72 with just over two minutes to go.
Sophomore forward Derek Cooke Jr. made one free throw to push UW in front by two and Washington made a steal on the ensuing Nevada possession that he layup up while being fouled. Washington converted the free throw as well to put UW up five, 77-72, with just over a minute to go. The Pokes kept the lead the rest of the way, as Gilmore added a free throw with four seconds left to ice the game.
Nance went 9-of-10 from the field for his 19 points and added a team-high eight rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. Washington added 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Gilmore had 17 points, including three treys, and a career-high eight assists. Freshman guard Josh Adams had 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Wyoming’s season high in points came thanks to 57 percent (27-of-47) from the field, its second best performance of the season, and 39 percent (7-of-18) beyond the arc. The Wolf Pack shot 47 percent (28-of-59) and 40 percent (10-of-25), respectively. Wyoming was outrebounded 31-30, but tied a season high with 18 assists.
Wyoming led through the first five minutes thanks to threes from Adams and sophomore guard Riley Grabau, before Nevada picked up the pace and used a 14-4 run to go up 19-12 midway through the first half. The Pokes hung around and cut the advantage to one at 22-21 with 7:08 left in the half on free throws from junior guard Nathan Sobey. The Wolf Pack hit the next two baskets, but a 9-3 UW run that included threes from Nance and Sobey gave Wyoming a 30-29 lead with just over two minutes to go. Nevada ended the half on a 7-2 spurt to go into halftime up 36-32, though.
The Pokes connected on 42 percent (13-of-31) from the field and 46 percent (5-of-11) beyond the arc, as their 32 points in the first half were the most since 36 against Colorado State in 2008. Nevada kept pace with 48 percent (11-of-23) and 46 percent (5-of-11), respectively. The Wolf Pack outrebounded Wyoming 21-13 in the first half and committed one less turnover, 7-6. Gilmore had eight points and four assists in the first half, while Nance added seven points and four rebounds.
Wyoming now advances to the quarterfinals to face No. 1 seed New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. MT tonight in the Thomas & Mack Center.
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