March 2, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -
Sophomore guard Riley Grabau scored a career-high 14 points and the University of Wyoming men's basketball team was within eight points of No. 14/14 New Mexico with three minutes left, but the Lobos held on for a 53-42 victory on Saturday afternoon in The Pit. The Cowboys suffered their fourth-straight loss, while the Lobos clinched a share of the Mountain West regular-season title with the win.
"I have a different feeling today than I did the last few games," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "I thought our guys had an understanding about how we could beat the best team in the league on their home floor. I was proud of how they attacked the game and kept this to a one possession game."
A sold out crowd of 15,411 saw Wyoming (18-11, 4-11) hang with New Mexico (25-4, 12-2) all game, before ultimately coming up short. The Pokes trailed by six at halftime, 25-19, but keep the lead in single digits the majority of the second half. Freshman guard Josh Adams put down a dunk with 3:28 left to cut the advantage to eight, but the Lobos quickly pushed the lead back to double digits and held on down the stretch.
Grabau nailed four threes for the second-straight game and added two free throws for his point total, while sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. notched his fifth game in double-figure rebounds this season with 10. Nance added two blocks, two assists and a steal. Sophomore forward Derek Cooke Jr. had nine points, filling in for senior forward Leonard Washington, who played just 10 minutes with a back injury.
"I thought Nance and Derek did man's work inside today against some very good big men," Shyatt said. "I thought our guards for the most part understood what they needed to possess the ball and kept the tempo in our favor. Everyone contributed tonight and no one tried to do it themselves. Riley came through and we needed him to come through and stroke it."
Wyoming struggled from the field all night, hitting just 28 percent (16-of-57) and 29 percent (7-of-24) from deep to 35 percent (15-of-42) and 14 percent (2-of-14) for New Mexico. The Pokes has season lows of three free throws made and seven attempted, while the Lobos hit on 21 of their 27 free throws. UW's 22 fouls were its second most this season to UNM's 12. UNM earned a slight 38-24 advantage in rebounds and 12-9 in assists.
New Mexico took an early lead, but the Cowboys hung tough through the first 10 minutes to tie the game twice. A Grabau three at the nine-minute mark gave Wyoming its first lead at 13-12, as he added another with five minutes left to tie the contest at 16-16. Senior guard Derrious Gilmore nailed a three as well with 1:27 to go, but UNM scored the final two baskets of the first half for a 25-19 halftime lead.
Grabau paced UW with nine points in the first half thanks to three treys, but neither team shot well in the opening half. Wyoming hit on 26 percent (7-of-27) from the field and 39 percent (5-of-13) from deep to 33 percent (8-of-24) and just one three (1-of-7) for New Mexico. The Lobos went 8-of-10 at the free throw line in the first half, while the Pokes didn't attempt a free throw.
Wyoming kept playing its grind-it-out- style of play in the second half and kept hanging around. Cooke rolled in a layup at the 10:38 mark to cut the lead to 36-33, but the Lobos responded with a 9-1 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game at 45-34 with 4:21 to go.
Wyoming finishes the regular season by hosting rival Colorado State on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.