LAS VEGAS -
Junior guard Josh Adams posted 19 points and three other Cowboys scored in double figures to help the fourth-seeded University of Wyoming men's basketball team to a 67-65 win over fifth-seeded Utah State in the Mountain West Championships' quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. A Wyoming-dominated crowd of 7,308 in the Thomas & Mack Center saw the two squads trade the lead 16 times before the Pokes (23-9) made a late run to advance to Friday's semifinals against top-seeded Boise State.
"I love these guys," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "At times I didn't think we played particularly well tonight, at times all season. But I have never been around a team I've enjoyed being around more on and off the court. Resilience comes to mind, down seven or eight. They just keep playing."
The Cowboys and Aggies (18-13) were tied at 51-51 with just over six minutes left, before senior guard Riley Grabau's triple sparked an 11-2 UW run that put Wyoming in front 62-53 with just under two minutes to go. Grabau would add free throws down the stretch to keep Utah State at bay and an Aggie heave at the buzzer went over the backboard to send the Pokes to the MW tournament's semifinals for the first time since 2009. Wyoming also picked up its 23rd win on the season, the most since 1987-88.
Adams reached double-figure points for a team-high 24th time this season and added a team-high six assists, but it was a balanced attack from the Pokes. Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. contributed a career-high 16 points, his first contest in double figures since Jan. 7, and five rebounds, while senior forward Larry Nance Jr. had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The performance moved him into 17th in UW history with 1,336 career points. Grabau had 11 points, including two threes to move to fourth in Cowboy history with 166 in his career. Senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. grabbed 10 rebounds and posted two blocks.
Wyoming shot 48 percent (26-of-54) from the field, but just 29 percent (5-of-17) from deep and 67 percent (10-of-15) at the free-throw line. Utah State connected on 44 percent (23-of-52) from the field and 42 percent (10-of-24) beyond the arc. Both teams collected 31 rebounds and 13 assists, but the Pokes earned a 38-24 advantage in points in the paint and 11-5 in points off turnovers. Wyoming is 15-0 this season when outscoring opponents by double digits in the paint and 20-0 when scoring 60-or more points in a game.
The Cowboys square off with Boise State on Friday at 7 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network (Charter: 634, DirecTV 221).