Balanced Cowboy Attack Gives UW 76-70 Win over Wolverines

Jan. 3, 2012

Orem, Utah

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Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington scored eight of the University of Wyoming's final 15 points, including a go-ahead layup with 34 seconds left, to give the Cowboys a hard-fought 76-70 win over Utah Valley on Tuesday night in the UCCU Center. Washington was one of four Cowboys to reach double figures, as UW (13-2) earned its second-straight road win and became the last team in the nation to allow an opponent more than 60 points.

The Cowboys led the Wolverines (7-10) by as many as nine points in the second half, but UVU used an 18-8 run late to retake a 70-69 lead with 1:52 left. Washington converted his layup and drew a charge on the ensuing Utah Valley possession with 10 seconds left to put Wyoming in control. Senior center Adam Waddell, redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez and Washington hit free throws to seal the game.

"Our coaching staff really did anticipate a very difficult road game tonight," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "We felt like it was going to be that type of game. It was disappointing for the first 30 minutes or so, but I'm very proud of these guys for the way they finished."

Senior guard Francisco Cruz paced UW with 21 points, including 17 in the first half, while Martinez scored 17, Washington tallied 14 and Waddell added 10. Senior guard JayDee Luster had nine points and a team-high five rebounds, while his two assists moved him into ninth on UW's top-10 career list with 276. Luster and Martinez notched home three treys each, while Martinez connected on four during a night that saw the Cowboys shoot 45 percent (11-of-24) beyond the arc. Wyoming hit 50 percent (24-of-48) from the floor and held a 16-12 advantage in assists, but UVU notched a UW opponent season-high 46 percent (23-of-49) from the floor. UVU outrebounded UW 32-21.

"During the last three timeouts, we talked about how there was going to be a winner and loser each possession," Shyatt said. "We stayed on the floor, did a great job defensively and got the rebounds we needed to get. We ended like we needed to end and got a road win when we needed to."

It was a back-and-forth first half that featured four ties and eight lead changes. Utah Valley jumped out to a 6-2 advantage through the first five minutes, as Wyoming started 1-of-5 from the field. A Martinez trey sparked the Cowboy offense to a 13-7 run and Cruz hit two from deep as well to put UW in front 18-13 at the 11:26 mark. The Wolverines clawed back to tie the game at 20-20, but five-straight points from Wyoming, including a three from senior guard Arthur Bouedo, put the Cowboys back up by five again with eight minutes left.

Utah Valley responded down the stretch with a 16-5 run, including two timely threes, to build its biggest lead of the first half at 36-30. Cruz scored five over the final two minutes to send UW into the break down 36-35 and ended the first half with 17 points. He hit three treys in the opening frame, while Martinez had six points thanks to two.

Both teams shot well in the opening frame. Wyoming hit 46 percent (12-of-26) from the field in the first half and 53 percent (7-of-13) from beyond the arc, while Utah Valley connected on 57 percent (15-of-26) and 66 percent (4-of-6). UW owned a 12-2 advantage in points off turnovers, but UVU's 36 first-half points were the most allowed by UW this season.

It was a game of runs in a second half that saw UW in front the majority. The game was tied three times through the first three minutes of the frame, before the Cowboys crafted a 16-7 run to go up by nine, 58-49, at the midpoint. Martinez hit a three during a spurt that was capped by back-to-back dunks form Waddell and Washington. UVU responded with an 18-8 run of their own, including 10-straight points from the free throw line, to go back up by one, 70-69, with 1:52 left.

Washington, who scored eight of UW's final 15 points, hit a layup with 34 seconds to go and drew a charge on the ensuing UVU possession with 10 second on the clock to put the Cowboys in control. Free throws from Waddell, Martinez and Washington sealed the game. Martinez had 11 points in the second half, while Washington added 10. Wyoming had four Cowboys reach double figures for the first time since a 65-51 win over Portland State on Nov. 25.

Wyoming returns to the Arena-Auditorium for the first time since Dec. 16 when the Cowboys host Idaho State on Monday at 7 p.m.

"We have one game left on the nonconference schedule and I sure hope our students are there," Shyatt said. "We need them bad and hopefully we have a big crowd."