Dec. 21, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team matched its best start in team history by winning its 12th-consecutive game with a 56-40 victory over the UC Santa Barbara on Friday in the Double A. Senior forward Leonard Washington led all scorers with 17 points while pulling down 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Fellow senior Luke Martinez chipped in 14 points and four steals for the Pokes.
The Cowboys rode a 32-17 second half to down the Gauchos, tying a season-low 40 points allowed, which also came against UCSB on Nov. 28. Wyoming moved its winning streak to 12 games marking the sixth time in school history a Cowboy team has matched that feat. At 12-0 the Cowboys are one of eight teams left in the country undefeated.
"I thought our guys showed great effort tonight, particularly in the second half," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "We were after every loose ball, or what we call 50-50 balls. When you play with effort like that it sends the right message to everyone on the team. We held them to one for 13 from three, and the `Boss', Leonard (Washington), went to work and took us from a one-point deficit to a seven-point lead. Then we were able to knock down some threes and got a comfortable lead."
Washington led all scorers with 17 points and 11 rebounds. It was Washington's 10th game this season in double figures and his 32nd of his career. Martinez's 14 points is also his 10th game this season in double figures and the 32nd of his career. Martinez finished 2-of-7 from the three point line to move his career three pointers to 116, two short of tying Maurice Alexander for ninth on UW's all-time top 10. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. and senior guard Derrious Gilmore each added seven points and combined for seven assists. Nance led the Pokes and the game with a career-high four assists. As a team the Cowboys, assisted on 12 of their 19 baskets in the game and turned the ball over just eight times.
The Cowboys, led 24-23 at halftime, but gave up the first basket of the second half to trail for the first time, 25-24. At the 17:49 mark of the second half, Washington took the game over scoring eight-consecutive points over the next 3:10 to give UW a 32-25 lead, which it never relinquished. Following a UCSB layup, Nance knocked down a three to advance the Cowboy lead to eight points. The Gauchos hit a two pointer on the next possession before Nance scored another layup to put the UW up by eight. Santa Barbara hit two free throws to pull back within six at 37-31 at the 12:08 mark. The following possession, a Washington dunk sparked a Cowboy run that put the Gauchos away for good. With the score 39-31, Gilmore knocked down his first three of the game to give UW an 11 point advantage. Following a UCSB layup, Martinez hit back-to-back threes to give the Pokes a double-digit lead at 15 that they would never lose. The Pokes ended the game on a 17-9 run over the final 12:08. During that run, UW allowed UCSB just three field goals giving up a season-low 17 second-half points.
"I thought two key things happened tonight," Shyatt said. "We took care of the ball from the onset of the game -- only eight turnovers. The last time we played this team, we won the game, but we had 16 turnovers. Second, we made extra pass after extra pass -- sometimes maybe too many -- but that is the luxury of having an unselfish team."
The Cowboys opened the game on a 6-0 run started by a Martinez jumper, a Josh Adams layup and a Gilmore jumper. The Gauchos got on the board with an Alan Williams dunk to make the score 6-2. An Adams jumper extended the UW lead to 8-2. Santa Barbara scored on its next two possessions to pull within two at 8-6. A Nance dunk from an offensive rebound sparked the Pokes to a 7-0 run. A Washington layup and Grabau three pointer added to the Pokes 15-6 lead. After going nearly five minutes without a basket the Gauchos hit two free throws to end the UW run and make the score 15-8.
UCSB hit another two on the next possession to cap a 4-0 run and make the score 15-10. Washington converted a three-point play on the following possession to give the Cowboys a 18-10 advantage. Neither team scored for the next minute and a half before a UCSB layup ended the draught making the score 18-12. Martinez was fouled on a three pointer the next possession converting 1-of-3 to make the score 19-12. Kyle Boswell scored five-consecutive points for the Gauchos to bring them within two at 19-17 with 4:30 to go in the first half. Martinez sparked the Cowboys over the next minute scoring five-consecutive points of his own growing the lead to seven points at 24-17. The Gauchos held the Cowboys scoreless over the final 2:52 of the first half scoring six in a row including a buzzer-beating layup as time expired in the first half. At the half the Pokes led by one 24-23, but would go on to win with a 32-17 second half.
The Cowboys will be off for the holidays before returning to action on Jan. 2, 2013 in Dallas, Texas, with a matchup against SMU.
"These guys deserve (a break)," Shyatt said. "They now get four and a half days to enjoy time with the people who are important to them. I can't wait to get back on the 27th (of December) and go back to work and hopefully keep this thing going."