Pokes Fall to Air Force, 58-53

Feb. 15, 2012

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Laramie, Wyo.

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Senior center Adam Waddell scored 15 and senior guard JayDee Luster added 11, but the University of Wyoming men's basketball team lost a 58-53 game to Air Force on Wednesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (18-7, 4-5) led the majority of the contest, but the Falcons (12-11, 2-7) used a 16-2 run midway through the second half to regain control and hand UW its first back-to-back losses this season.

Wyoming was in front by eight at halftime and still up well into the second half, before Air Force crafted a 12-0 spurt from the 10-minute mark to the three-minute mark that pushed the Falcons in front by nine at 56-47. The Cowboys battle back to within three at 56-53 with 1:34 to go, but couldn't hit a basket down the stretch and AFA hit two free throws to ice the game.

"This is really the first time this season that I've been disappointed by our performance, especially defensively," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "We were beaten off the dribble countless times, and we didn't play with the tenacity that we normally have. I take full responsibility for our lace of intensity on defense and our lack of consistency on offense."

Waddell went 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free throw line to 3-of-8 and 5-of-5 for Luster. Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington added nine rebounds and seven points, while redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez scored eight. UW shot just 39 percent (20-of-51) from the field, including 19 percent (4-of-21) beyond the arc, to Air Force's 48 percent (22-of-45) and 42 percent (8-of-19). The Cowboys earned a 31-23 rebounding advantage and held the Falcons to no offensive rebounds and second-chance points.

The Cowboys dominated the first 10 minutes of the game, as UW quickly built a 24-10 lead. Martinez and senior guard Francisco Cruz opened the scoring with back-to-back threes, while Washington and Waddell added two layups each. Two-straight treys from Air Force ignited the Falcons on a quick 10-0 spurt to pull within four at 24-20 with 6:04 left, but Waddell crafted a 5-0 swing himself and Martinez nailed a three to put UW back up 32-20 at the 3:06 mark.

Air Force would draw within six late in the half, but Wyoming took a 36-28 lead into halftime thanks to a layup from freshman forward Larry Nance Jr. The Cowboys shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field in the opening frame, including 33 percent (3-of-9) from deep, while the Falcons rebounded from a slow start to hit 48 percent (12-of-25) and 30 percent (4-of-13). UW owned a 19-8 advantage in rebounds, including seven by Washington. Waddell had 11 points in the first half and Cruz added seven.

The Falcons start the second half with a 10-2 spurt to tie the contest at 38-38 six minutes in. Martinez earned a steal and layup to put Wyoming back in front and Waddell extended the lead to five with a dunk midway through the half. AFA once again fought back with timely threes, hitting four of its first five attempts, while UW opened the half 0-of-6 from deep. The disparity fueled a 12-0 Falcon run that gave AFA its first lead of the game and put them in front 52-45 with 6:43 to go.

Luster hit two frees with 5:11 left to stop the streak and pull UW within five at 52-47, but Air Force extended the lead to nine with two more baskets. Wyoming fought to the end, though, as senior guard Arthur Bouedo hit a three and Luster converted an old fashion three-point play to drag the Cowboys back to within three at 56-53 with 1:34 left. UW forced a miss on the Falcon's ensuing possession and had a chance to tie, but Luster missed a three and the Pokes were forced to foul. Air Force hit both free throws and UW missed its final two chances to extend the game.

Wyoming travels to Colorado State on Saturday for a 7 p.m. showdown.