LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. notched 21 points and all five starters reached double figures for the University of Wyoming men's basketball team during a hard-fought 78-70 win over Northern Colorado on Sunday. The Cowboys opened the newly renovated Arena-Auditorium and the 2014-15 season against a feisty Bears squad that tied the contest at 58-58 with six minutes to go, before the Pokes crafted a 14-4 run over the next four minutes to take control.
"There is nothing not to be pleased about tonight," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "I'm thrilled for the fans who came tonight, because I think they saw what a phenomenal job our university, our donors and our legislature produced here with this building."
UNC (1-1) hung with the Pokes for nearly 34 minutes, before senior guard Riley Grabau sparked the deciding run with a trey and an assist on Nance's ensuing dunk. Junior guard Josh Adams added the next five points, before senior forward Derek Cooke Jr. brought a crowd of 5,876 to its feet with an emphatic dunk for UW's first double-digit lead of the game. The Bears could only get within eight down the stretch.
"I thought this was the best Northern Colorado team that we've played," Shyatt said. "We've had some wars with them in the past. I thought they made some incredible shots this afternoon. But I thought our guys stayed focused. It wasn't about the hoopla around them. It was about the ballgame."
Nance's eighth 20-point game of his career came on 8-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 at the free throw line, while he added eight rebounds, a block, assist and steal in 35 minutes. Adams contributed 14 points, including 4-of-6 from deep, while Grabau had 13 in 39 minutes and senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. added 12. The trio notched five assists each. Cooke rounded out UW's double-figure scorers with 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
Wyoming shot 62 percent (26-of-42) from the field, including 72 percent in the second half, while adding 45 percent (8-of-18) beyond the arc. UNC connected on 49 percent (25-of-51) and 35 percent (6-of-17), respectively. The Cowboys outrebounded the Bears 24-21 and notched assists on 21 of their 26 baskets during the game.
The Cowboys return to action by hosting Western State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.