BOZEMAN, Mont. -
Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. notched a season-high 31 points to guide the University of Wyoming men's basketball team to a solid 61-51 victory at Montana State on Tuesday night in Worthington Arena. The Cowboys (11-2) led by just two late in the second half, but held the Bobcats (3-9) off the scoreboard the last 2:39 of the game to pick up their first road win of the season.
"Rick Barnes, one of my mentors, used to tell me no coach would really be nervous or worried before each game if they knew their players were going to play hard," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "Every single night our guys play hard. Not always pretty, but always hard."
The Pokes led by five at halftime and as much as nine in the second half, before the Bobcats hit a three to pull within 53-51 with 2:39 left. That would be MSU's last points of the game, though, as Wyoming closed the contest with an 8-0 run on free throws from Nance, four-straight points from junior guard Josh Adams and a layup from senior forward Derek Cooke Jr.
"When we needed defensive rebounds in the second half, we got them," Shyatt said. "We went to a zone with three minutes left and really stymied them. It was really only two stops, but they came at great times."
Nance's second 30-point effort of his career and team-high ninth game in double-figure points this season came on 9-of-14 from the field and 12-of-15 at the free throw line. His 12 made free throws were a career high, as he added six rebounds and played all 40 minutes. Cooke was just as impressive inside, though, as he posted his first double-double of the season with 13 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in three-straight games for the first time in his career. The duo helped Wyoming outscore Montana State, 30-14, in the paint, UW's eighth game this season with 30 or more points inside.
Adams added 10 points for his eighth game in double-figure points this season and earned four assists, while tying a career high with four steals. Redshirt sophomore guard Jason McManamen made his second-straight start, as senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. sat with an injury, and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds.
As a team, Wyoming shot 46 percent (20-of-44) from the field, but made just two of seven three-point attempts. The Pokes made up for that with a 19-of-31 showing at the free throw line, the sixth time this season UW has attempted more than 25 free throws in a game. Both teams collected 34 rebounds, but the Cowboys committed nine less fouls. MSU shot 36 percent (18-of-50) from the field and 31 percent (6-of-19) from deep.
Wyoming opens the Mountain West season by hosting UNLV on New Year's Eve at 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.