Nov. 30, 2011
Laramie, Wyo. -
Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but the University of Wyoming defense was the star of a 74-41 win over Utah Valley on Wednesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (7-1) were up 13-10 midway through the first half, before going on a 25-3 run over the next eight minutes to force their will on the Wolverines (4-4) the rest of the contest.
"Our identity is beginning to be formed," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "We came out tonight and I thought played well defensively, and played hard from start to finish. That is a credit to each of our guys. I'm very proud of our team."
Washington went 6-of-7 from the field, 1-of-2 from behind the arc and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line for his fifth game in double figures for the Cowboys. He added three steals and a block. Senior guard Francisco Cruz contributed 11 points and a season-high three assists, while senior guard JayDee Luster had five assists and two steals.
The UW defense once again notched a stellar performance, as UVU's 41 points was the second-lowest for a Cowboy opponent this season. Wyoming held the Wolverines to a season-low one trey (1-of-18) for 5.6 percent. UW shot 48 percent (26-of-54) from the floor and held UVU to 30 percent (16-of-52), while owning a 46-26 advantage in rebounds.
"I thought our point guards did a good job of making decisions again tonight," Shyatt said. "We're probably not running the court as much as we thought when we started the season, because we were turning the ball over a little too much playing at that pace. Since we've slowed it down, we've done a much better job of making good decisions with the ball and working for good shots."
The contest was a defensive battle through the first seven minutes, as Wyoming built a six-point advantage at 11-5 behind five points from Cruz and four from senior center Adam Waddell. Utah Valley cut the lead to three at 13-10 at the midpoint of the half, but the Cowboys caught fire by hitting eight of their next nine shots. UW went on a 25-3 run over the next eight minutes thanks in part to 10 points from Washington and five from junior guard Derrious Gilmore. A Cruz jumper with 40 seconds left gave Wyoming its biggest lead of the half at 27 points and the game went to halftime at 42-17.
Washington has 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the first half, while Cruz contributed 11 points and three assists. UW shot 54 percent (17-of-31) from the field while holding UVU to 27 percent (6-of-22) and no three-pointers (0-of-9). The Cowboys earned six steals to one for the Wolverines in the first half.
The Cowboys continued their momentum into the second half with treys from Luster and redshirt junior Luke Martinez to quickly push the advantage over 30 points. It was smooth sailing from there as UW continued its stellar defense and earned it biggest lead of the game at 66-30 with 7:06 to go. Senior forward Afam Muojeke scored eight in the second half and freshman Larry Nance Jr. added seven.
Wyoming continues its season by hosting Bradley for the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.