Nov. 27, 2011
Redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez notched a career-high 20 points to earn tournament MVP honors en route to leading the University of Wyoming men's basketball team to a 73-58 win over Louisiana Tech in the final game of the Jim Thorpe Classic on Sunday. More than 4,000 UW fans in the Arena-Auditorium saw the Cowboys (6-1) start the second half with a 10-0 run to turn an eight-point advantage into an easy double-digit lead the rest of the way.
"Luke (Martinez) was terrific," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "He hit shots consistently throughout the tournament, and we need bombs like that. We have a couple guys who can score inside, but we need some threes to spread out the defense and open up the inside for our big men. We hit some early three tonight that accomplished that."
Martinez's career night came courtesy of 5-of-9 from behind the arc and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, while he also added three rebounds and four assists. He set a career high in points in two of the three games during the tournament and shot 61 percent (13-of-21) from deep. Senior guard Francisco Cruz was named to the All-Tournament team with 19 points and four rebounds. Senior center Adam Waddell added 11 points and freshman forward Larry Nance Jr. had a season-high nine rebounds.
"I was pleased with the way we played during this tournament on the defensive end," Shyatt said. "I thought from start to finish we played defense with consistency and resiliency in each of these three games."
Wyoming connected on 47 percent (21-of-44) from the field during the game, including 50 percent (11-of-22) from deep, while Louisiana Tech (2-3) hit 37 percent (19-of-51) and 38 percent (7-of-18). The Cowboys had a 12-7 advantage in assists and 30-28 in rebounds.
Wyoming started with treys from Martinez and Cruz, as the teams exchanged baskets through the first six minutes. The Cowboys went on an 11-3 run over the next six minutes to take a 22-11 lead at the 8:08 mark. Nance started the streak with a tip-in, while another Martinez three was sandwiched by jumpers from Cruz. Both squads stepped up the defense down the stretch, as the two teams traded buckets. Waddell hit two free throws, Martinez added another trey and Cruz hit a jumper to send UW to the locker room with a 31-23 lead.
Martinez had 11 points in the first half, including three treys, while Waddell and Cruz both added nine points. Wyoming shot 43 percent (10-of-23) from the field in the opening frame, compared to 32 percent (8-of-25) for Louisiana Tech. UW was outrebounded 16-15, but owned a 7-3 advantage in assists.
Wyoming assumed control of the contest with a 10-0 run to start the second half. Senior guard JayDee Luster hit two free throws, Martinez nailed a three and redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington scored five straight with a trey and a thunderous dunk. The streak put UW up 41-23 just three minutes into the second half and the Cowboys would keep the advantage in double digits the rest of the way. Cruz added free throws and a trey, while a Luster three at the 5:05 mark gave UW its biggest lead of the night at 65-42.
The Cowboys return to action by hosting Utah Valley on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.