Wyoming Downs Eastern Washington In NIT

March 20, 2003

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Donta Richardson scored 24 points and Uche Nsonwu-Amadi added 14 and 12 rebounds to lead Wyoming past Eastern Washington 78-71 in a first-round NIT game Thursday night.

The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night but was postponed by the massive snowstorm in the region. Eastern Washington was stuck in Denver for two days, and at one point the players had to push the team's chartered bus out of a drift.

"It's been an interesting 72 hours, but I'm proud of the way our kids fought through it," Eagles coach Ray Giacoletti said. "We said we would go anywhere and do anything to get to postseason, and we darn near had to do that.

"For us to get focused up here tonight is a credit to those kids."

The Cowboys (21-10) will face North Carolina (18-15) on Monday in Chapel Hill.

"It's a great opportunity," Richardson said. "It's a great gym. A lot of greats have gone there and played. They've got a strong team, but we do too."

Chris Hester scored 19 points to lead Eastern Washington (18-13). The Eagles were playing in their first Division I postseason tournament.

Wyoming used a pair of 7-0 runs in the first half to take a 41-33 halftime lead. Richardson scored 15 in the half.

The Eagles rallied to tie the game at 54-all on a basket by Hester with 9:42 to play, but Wyoming went on another 7-0 run, led by two baskets from Nsonwu-Amadi, to go up 61-54 with 6:30 left. The Cowboys sank 10 straight free throws in the last 1:18 to preserve the win.

Jay Straight added 16 points for the Cowboys, and David Adams had 15.

Alvin Snow had 17 points for Eastern Washington, and Brendon Merritt had 16.