Senior forward Leonard Washington, senior guard Derrious Gilmore and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. combined to score 29 of the University of Wyoming's 34 second-half points and guide the Cowboys to a 74-55 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium.
The Pokes (10-0) were tied with the Aggies with 11 minutes left in the second half, before the UW trio sparked a 25-6 run to end the game.
"We talked the last couple of games about embracing moments of adversity," Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. "I think for the first time this year, collectively we were fighting ourselves a little bit in the first half of the game on offense. We were missing some shots on offense that we normally make, and we allowed ourselves to get frustrated a little on the offensive end. Low and behold, those last 10 minutes we held [Oklahoma Panhandle State] to two baskets, which was reminiscent of the Illinois State win, and we end up on a 25-6 run to end the game."
Wyoming battled the NCAA Division II Aggies all night, as OPSU fought back from a six-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 49-49 with 10:53 left. The Pokes would take over from there, though, as UW held the Aggies to two field goals and one free throw over the final 10 minutes.
Washington posted his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds to go with two blocks and two assists. Gilmore posted 21 points thanks to a career-high six threes, while Nance had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Luke Martinez rounded out UW's double-figure scorers with 12 points, as he hit two threes to climb into UW's all-time top 10 in three-point makes with 109. Sophomore guard Jack Bentz notched a career-high four assists.
"I thought our guys had good energy in the second half," Shyatt said. "It took about six or seven minutes to get on track, but I really liked the focus and the unselfish way we played down the stretch in the second half. With Derrious [Gilmore] being able to be as effective as he has been from three-point range, it forces opposing defenses to play us much different than they did last year. That makes things easier for everyone and opens things up for Leonard [Washington] and [Larry] Nance on the block."
Wyoming shot 47 percent (28-of-59) from the field and its second-best performance of the season beyond the arc at 42 percent (9-of-21), while holding OPSU to 38 percent (21-of-54) and 35 percent (6-of-17). The Cowboys earned a 36-33 advantage in rebounds, 14-7 in assists and 4-1 in blocks.
The Pokes and Aggies (4-5) exchanged the lead five times through the first seven minutes, before Wyoming asserted itself with an 8-0 run to take the lead 15-12 at the 11:17 mark. Junior guard Nathan Sobey scored the first four in the spurt and Washington capped it with four straight.
Martinez hit a three with 9:14 left in the first half to climb into UW's career top 10, as the Cowboys extended the lead to as many as 13 down the stretch. The Aggies closed the half with a 9-4 run to go into halftime down 40-34.
Gilmore scored 12 points in the first half thanks to 4-of-6 from deep, while Martinez added 10 points. Nance had three assists and four rebounds.
Wyoming shot 45 percent (14-of-31) from the field and 42 percent (6-of-14) beyond the arc in the first half to 46 percent (13-of-28) and 44 percent (4-of-9) for OPSU. The Aggies outrebounded Wyoming 17-16, but committed eight turnovers to six for the Pokes.
OPSU fought hard in the second half, as the Aggies tied the contest up at 47-47 eight minutes into the second half. They tied it up at 49-49 a minute later, but that's when the Cowboys took over.
Washington broke the tie with a layup and sparked a 10-0 spurt, as Wyoming crafted a 25-6 run over the final 10 minutes to pull away for the victory.
Washington would combine with Gilmore and Nance to score 23 of UW's points during the spurt, as the trio scored 29 of UW's 34 points in the second half.
Nance posted 11 points in the second half to nine apiece for Washington and Gilmore. Wyoming shot 50 percent 14-of-28) from the field and 42 percent (3-of-7) from deep, while holding OPSU to 30 percent (8-of-26) and 25 percent (2-of-8). The Cowboys outrebounded the Aggies 20-16 in the second half.
UW Head Coach Larry Shyatt Quotes
"We talked the last couple of games about embracing moments of adversity. I think for the first time this year, collectively, not individually, but collectively we were fighting ourselves a little bit in the first half of the game on offense. We were missing some shots on offense they we normally make, and we allowed ourselves to get frustrated a little on the offensive end.
"Low and behold, those last 10 minutes we held them (Oklahoma Panhandle State) to two baskets -- which was reminiscent of the Illinois State win -- and we end up on a 25-6 run to end the game.
"When you can hold someone to 30 percent from the field and 25 percent from three in the second half, good things are going to happen.
"I have to compliment Panhandle. They made some really difficult shots in the first half, including a half-court one to end the half. I thought they had put in four or five really difficult shots in the first half, and even though we were fighting ourselves a little bit I'm just so happy for our guys. You don't want to learn a lesson the hard way.
"I thought our guys had good energy in the second half. It took about six or seven minutes to get on track, but I really liked the focus and the unselfish way we played down the stretch in the second half. Now,
the attention turns to the books.
"We scheduled this game such that our guys can now have complete focus on their academics. We'll meet tomorrow and talk about how we're going to structure the next nine days, but doing the right things off the court and doing the right things academically is number one. It is very important -- they (the players) know it's important, and we're in position to do well academically this semester. But you know what, we've got to finish the job by finishing strong with these last papers, final projects and tests of the semester.
"I am particularly proud of Jack Bentz for coming in and handling the ball so well with Riley (Grabau) being out, it was very important to have Jack hand out four assists and commit no turnovers.
"If we can play with our point guards, Derrious Gilmore and Jack Bentz, handing out five assists and committing no turnovers, a lot of good things can happen.
"With Derrious being able to be as effective as he has been from three-point range, it forces opposing defenses to play us much different than they did last year. That makes things easier for everyone and opens things up for Leonard (Washington) and (Larry) Nance on the block.
"I thought Leonard (Washington) and Larry Nance), particularly Leonard, had some really nice shovel passes down low. Leonard made some really unselfish plays, where he could have taken it to the basket himself but he dropped it off to Larry for dunks, and actually a couple times Larry bobbled it.
"Larry got frustrated a couple times, but Leonard was the one who got in Larry's head and got him back in the game. I believe Larry benefits a lot from having Leonard, who has been around the block, to help him
through those difficult times."
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