Cowboys Win Thriller at Home

by Staff–24 Jan ’15

As they had twice last season, the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team and New Mexico went to overtime, but Saturday was different as the Cowboys earned a dramatic 63-62 victory in the extra period thanks to the heroics of senior forward Larry Nance Jr. The Cowboys (17-3, 6-1 MW) got plenty of help, though, from the raucous 10,167 fans in the Arena-Auditorium, UW’s largest crowd since 2005.

After missing a chance to tie the game at the free throw line with 14 seconds left in overtime, Nance deflected a Lobo pass near midcourt and saved the ball to senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. Just seconds later senior guard Riley Grabau found Nance wide open under the basket for the dunk with 3.2 seconds left to cap an incredible comeback after trailing by five with 1:12 left in overtime. UNM (13-7, 5-3 MW) couldn’t get a shot off, as the Pokes snapped a string of eight-straight losses to the Lobos.

“We’ve had five straight games with New Mexico won in the last 20 seconds or overtime – two heartbreakers for us last year and I’m sure this is a heartbreaker for New Mexico,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “A lot of things happened during the home stretch of this one, but I can’t say enough about how much I love our guys. Their will is incredible. When somebody hits an incredible shot against them, instead of dropping their heads there is no give up in them and they keep pushing.”

Nance finished with 23 points for his seventh 20-point effort this season and added six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 41 minutes. Nance scored 19 of his 23 in the second half and overtime. Junior guard Josh Adams tied a season high with 20 points, while senior guard Riley Grabau had nine points on three treys and four assists. Grabau is now tied for sixth in UW history with 136 three pointers in his career.

An emotional roller coaster from start to finish, neither team led by more than five points with 12 ties in the game and five lead changes. The Lobos used offensive rebounds late in the second half to maintain an advantage and looked to be in line for the win, before Adams was fouled on a three-point attempt with 10 seconds left. He calmly sank all three freebies to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Lobos hit back-to-back threes for a 62-57 lead, but that would be their last points. Adams responded with a triple of his own, before Nance missed his free throw and engineered his game-winning dunk.

Wyoming shot a below-average 39 percent (18-of-46) from the field, but hit 35 percent (8-of-23) from beyond the arc and 86 percent (19-of-22) at the free throw line. The Pokes were outrebounded 30-25, but committed only 13 turnovers, including just three in the second half, to 16 for the Lobos.  The crowd was the largest for a Pokes’ game since Feb. 3, 2001 and first over 10,000 since Jan. 29, 2005.

“I want to give a shout out to our great fans,” Shyatt said. “I’m so happy our fans got to see a great game like this and see our guys end it with a bang. We only get five more chances to see this group play in the Double A and I want so much for our fans to get to appreciate this team.”

Wyoming is right back to action on Tuesday at Utah State. Tip is set for 7 p.m. MT in Smith Spectrum.