Cowboys' Streak Stops at Nine with 57-46 Loss at Denver

Dec. 19, 2011

Laramie, Wyo. -

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Redshirt junior forward Leonard Washington tied a career-high with 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but the University of Wyoming men's basketball team lost a 57-46 contest to Denver on Monday night in Magness Arena. The Cowboys (11-2) tied the Pioneers (9-2) at 32-32 with nine minutes left, but struggled on the offensive end down the stretch to snap their nine-game winning streak.

UW exchanged the lead with DU seven times through the contest, including a 32-32 tie with 8:57 left, but the Pioneers held the Cowboys to just four free throws over the next six minutes to craft a 14-4 run. The Denver spurt was capped by two-straight threes and put DU firmly in control, 46-36, with 3:04 left. UW would hit just two more buckets the rest of the game, as Denver cruised from there.

"Leonard [Washington] and Adam [Waddell] really were competitive in the last seven minutes tonight," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "I think us getting it inside kept us in the game for the last seven minutes, but we missed some open shots inside that ended up sinking us. We were good inside, but we just couldn't get open on the outside to keep our offense balanced. I feel like that is on me because I couldn't find ways to get our kids open tonight."

Washington went 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity strip to reach 18 points for the second time this season, while also adding two blocks and a steal. Three of his nine rebounds came on the offensive end. Senior guard Francisco Cruz scored 11 to reach double figures for the second consecutive game, while redshirt junior guard Luke Martinez added five. Freshman forward Larry Nance Jr. also had two blocks.

The Cowboys shot 37 percent (16-of-43) from the field, but hit just one of 13 three-point attempts. DU became UW's second opponent this season to top 40 percent from the field, hitting 43.6 percent (17-of-39) and 45 percent (9-of-20) from deep. Wyoming owned a 30-12 advantage in the paint, but was outrebounded 28-24.

"I have to give their defense credit." Shyatt said. "They forced us to take contested threes all game. I really feel the difference in the game was they were getting open threes and we were not. Their three point defense is better than ours and it really showed when we couldn't get an open look at three."

Wyoming scratched out a five-point lead at 7-2 to start the game, courtesy of five quick points from Cruz in the first six minutes. UW began the game 3-of-7 from the field and held DU to 1-of-6 with three turnovers. The Pioneers worked back to tie the contest at 7-7, and the squads exchanged baskets over the next six minutes. Denver hit back-to-back buckets for a four-point advantage at 17-13, but an old fashion three-point play from Washington and free throws by junior guard Derrious Gilmore put the Cowboys right back on top, 18-17 with 1:20 to go. DU made the final two baskets to head into halftime with a 21-18 lead.

The Cowboys shots 38 percent (7-of-18) in the first half, but failed to connect from deep (0-of-4), while Denver hit 29 percent (7-of-24) and 25 percent (3-of-12). The Pioneers held a slight 17-12 advantage in assists, as both teams had seven turnovers. Washington scored seven in the first frame and Cruz had five.

It was more defense to start the second half, as neither team scored for the first three minutes. Cruz hit a jumper in the paint and Washington hit a layup to briefly give UW a22-21 lead, but DU crafted a six-point advantage at 32-26 midway through the half with a timely three. Cruz nailed two free throws, Washington added a layup and Gilmore converted a fastbreak layup to tie the game at 32-32 with 8:57 left, but DU responded with a 14-4 run to go up by 10 at 46-36 with 3:04 to go. Wyoming could only muster four free throws during the six-minute run, as the Pioneers capped it with back-to-back treys. Waddell ended the run with a layup, but Denver hit another three and cruised home from there.

Washington had 11 points in the second half, while Cruz contributed six. Wyoming shot just 36 percent (9-of-25) in the second half.

Wyoming continues its current three-game road trip at Idaho State on Thursday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in Pocatello, Idaho.