LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Senior forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. notched 13 points apiece to guide the University of Wyoming men's basketball team to a 61-46 win over Western State on Tuesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (2-0) let the Mountaineers get within eight points midway through the second half, but a 13-4 run allowed UW to cruise the final six minutes.
"It was an opportunity for some of our young people to get some serious time tonight," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "With 13 minutes to go in the first half, we were down 12-4 with our starters. I thought the rest of the game those guys who came off the bench for us did a great job. They had an edge about them, and realistically I don't think they gave up maybe 30 points in about 32 minutes that they were on the floor.
Western State (1-2) took an early lead and trailed by just six at halftime, before pulling within 44-36 with 12 minutes left in the contest. Nance would put down big dunks on two of Wyoming's next three possessions, though, to spark the deciding run. Redshirt sophomore guard Jason McManamen and senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. would add threes during the spurt to put the game well in hand.
"Defensively for us in the first half, we gave up six or seven three-point shots," Shyatt said. "In fact, [Dominique] Wright, who came into the game 0 for 7 from three, knocked in four threes. It threw us off a little bit, but those are parts of the game that you have to overcome. I did think in the second half that was the defense that we like to play. 21 points is a pretty good half of defense."
Cooke's night came on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, as he is 11-of-11 on the season now, while Nance made six baskets as well and added eight rebounds and three assists. Hankerson contributed 11 points, four rebounds and a career-high six assists. Redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon added seven points and six rebounds, while freshman guard Jeremy Lieberman notched four assists.
Wyoming shot over 50 percent from the field for a second-straight game, hitting 52 percent (24-of-46) overall and 32 percent (6-of-19) from deep, while holding WSU to 34 percent (17-of-50) and 33 percent (10-of-30), respectively. The Cowboys notched 21 assists for a second-straight game as well, the first time since 2007-08 with 20 or more assists in back-to-back games. Wyoming also earned a 34-23 advantage in rebounds and 34-14 in points in the paint.
The Mountaineers took an early 12-4 lead in the first half thanks to the three ball, but the Cowboys responded with a 22-0 run over the next eight minutes. Wyoming held Western State without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes while building a 26-12 advantage, but WSU went beyond the arc again to get back in the game and entered halftime down just 31-26.
Wyoming shot 46 percent (12-of-26) from the field in the first half, but just 25 percent (3-of-12) from three. The Mountaineers hit 7 of their 17 three-point attempts (41 percent), but were just 9-of-25 overall (36 percent) in the first half. The Cowboys earned a 17-13 advantage in rebounds and 10-7 in assists while committing just two fouls.
Wyoming continues its season by hosting Colorado on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium, before Wyoming football hosts Boise State at 8:15 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium. Fans can purchase a Bandit Bundle ticket to the doubleheader for $45 by contacting the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office or online at GoWYO.com. The offer is not available on Saturday.