Feb. 8, 2014
LAS VEGAS -
Junior forward Larry Nance Jr.'s jumper with two seconds left ran around the rim, but fell out to hand the University of Wyoming men's basketball team a 48-46 loss at UNLV on Saturday night in the Thomas & Mack Center. The Cowboys (14-9, 5-5 MW) battled from behind the entire second half, before having their fourth loss by a single basket this season be decided on the final play.
The Rebels (16-8, 7-4 MW) led by two at halftime and stretched the lead to as many as seven points with seven minutes left in the game. As they have done all season, the Pokes kept fighting to the end, though. Junior guard Riley Grabau hit a three with 1:05 left to pull Wyoming within two and junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. came up with a steal on the defensive end to give the Cowboys a chance to tie the game. After a timeout, Nance caught the ball in the block and worked to his left, but his jumper ran around the back of the rim and out. Sophomore guard Josh Adams got the offensive rebound, but was unable to get a shot off as time expired.
Nance played perhaps his grittiest game of the season, as he tweaked his groin in the first half and was visibly in pain the majority of the game. He ended with 12 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two assists. His three blocks moved him to 92 for his career to tie him for 10th on UW's all-time chart and 49 for the season for 10th on UW's single-season chart. Grabau finished with 11 points for his fifth-straight game in double figures, as he added three more treys to his season tally. Adams grabbed a career-high six rebounds and added four assists.
Wyoming shot 46 percent (19-of-41) from the field and 33 percent (4-of-12) from deep, while holding UNLV to 43 percent (21-of-49) and 23 percent (3-of-13), respectively. The Cowboys attempted a season-low five free throws and made four of them, while UNLV's 3 free-throw makes and four attempts were season lows for a UW opponent. Both teams hauled in 25 rebounds, but Wyoming committed 14 turnovers to just seven for the Rebels.
It was a low-scoring first half as UNLV led 22-20 at halftime. The Rebels grabbed an early lead and built it to as many as six points eight minutes into the half. Back-to-back threes from redshirt senior Jerron Granberry and Grabau knotted the contest at 14-14 with seven minutes to go, though. Adams, Cooke and Nance added dunks down the stretch, but the Cowboys had 10 turnovers in the first half to just three for the Rebels. Wyoming shot its usual 50 percent (9-of-18) from the field and 28 percent (2-of-7) from three, while holding UNLV to 33 percent (9-of-27) and 18 percent (2-of-11), respectively. The Pokes earned a 14-13 advantage on the boards and 6-4 in assists.
The Cowboys came out of the locker room and tied the contest on a layup from Grabau at 22-22, but the Rebels responded with a 6-0 spurt to go back in front. Nance posted the next six points for the Pokes, but UNLV kept the lead and went out in front by as many as seven points. A trey from Grabau cut it to single digits and a free throw from Cooke kept it at that to set up Grabau's final bucket and Nance's final shot.
Wyoming returns home to host No. 5 San Diego State on Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.