LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Four Cowboys scored in double figures to guide the University of Wyoming men's basketball team to a dramatic 59-57 win over UNLV on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes (9-8, 2-2 MW) trailed by 17 midway through the first half, but held the Rebels (9-7, 0-3 MW) to just three field goals in the last 11 minutes of the game.
"I would agree that it was a big win and it was a great comeback," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "Different guys at different times for us. MVP clearly is Lance Schuemann, our trainer, because he found Jordan Naughton's missing contact lens at halftime. Thank god for him. Again, a different guy on a different night, though. Alexander Aka Gorski comes up with some big threes, Jason McManamen comes up with some big threes and boy did Jordan Naughton give us an extra oomph inside when we needed him."
Wyoming suffered through yet another sluggish start to trail 22-5 with less than 10 minutes left in the first half, but would battle back to pull within four at 31-27 at halftime. The second half would feature all 13 lead changes in the game, as neither squad led by more than five in the frame. The Cowboys would take control down the stretch at the foul line, though. Sophomore guard Alexander Aka Gorski, freshman forward Jordan Naughton and senior guard Josh Adams all hit pressure-filled free throws, but it was sophomore forward Alan Herndon's two makes with three seconds left that iced the game.
"The only thing I put on the board when we got in [the locker room] was, it's so simple for me but never gets talked or written about, the team that shot 71 percent at the foul line won," Shyatt said. "The team that shot 57 percent at the foul line lost. I remind you guys that was a two-point game. It goes unheralded sometimes, but it is so important to not only make fouls shots but getting to the foul line and getting in the foul situation early."
Junior guard Jason McManamen paced the Pokes with 17 points, including a career-high five threes, while Aka Gorski and Naughton both added 11 points and five rebounds apiece. Both were career highs for Naughton, while Aka Gorski finished a team-best plus 15 on the day. Adams had a season-low 12 points, but still moved into 14th all-time in scoring at Wyoming and managed five assists versus the Rebels. Sophomore guard Jeremy Lieberman tallied a career-high three steals. Wyoming is now 4-0 this season when four Cowboys reach double-figure points.
Wyoming shot a season-low 34 percent (16-of-47) from the field and just 32 percent (8-of-25) from deep to win a game for the first time this season when shooting worse than its opponent. The Rebels hit 40 percent (19-of-47) from the field, but tied season lows for a Cowboy foe in field goals made and field goals attempted. At the free-throw line, Wyoming hit 70 percent (19-of-27) to just 57 percent (12-of-21) for UNLV. The Rebels committed 18 turnovers, a season high for a Cowboy foe, and fouled 23 times, as the Pokes have forced their opponent into 20 or more fouls 14 times this season.
Wyoming returns to the road at San Jose State Wednesday at 8 p.m. MT.