*Courtesy University of Wyoming Athletics Media and Public Relations
LARAMIE, Wyo. (Feb. 18, 2014) – Senior guard Nathan Sobey posted a career-high 26 points and the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team made a season-high 33 free throws to grind out a 72-66 Mountain West victory over Fresno State on Tuesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (17-9, 8-5 MW) played the last 14 minutes without junior forward Larry Nance Jr. after he suffered a knee injury, but still managed to snap a five-game winning streak for Fresno State (13-14, 6-8 MW).
“As I tried to remind Larry [Nance Jr.] and our team, he’s going to be back in four to five months even if it does prove to be a severe injury,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “But this is something he can catapult from, and we can catapult from. We’re going to overcome. Larry’s going to overcome this, and we’re going to have a cause greater than anybody else. We have to look a little deeper. We never understand why at times like this, but we can have a cause greater than ourselves now -- the Larry Nance cause.”
The Pokes led by two at halftime and extended it to as many as nine points at 40-31 shortly after Nance’s injury, but Bulldogs used a quick 9-0 spurt to tie the contest at 40-40 with 12 minutes remaining. Wyoming collected itself with a 10-3 run of its own to go back in front and built the advantage back to nine at 56-47 with five minutes left. FSU would make one final push to cut the lead to three at 58-55 with 2:30 to go, but Sobey converted an and-one play and four other Pokes made free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“It’s two different feelings right now -- two different emotions,” Shyatt said. “I never dreamed without Larry [Nance Jr.] for 14 minutes and with Riley [Grabau] struggling so mightily tonight that we could beat a team like Fresno on a five-game win streak. Kudos to our guys, who hung in there, and played exactly how they have all year, being pillars of discipline.”
Sobey’s career night included 22 second-half points, as he shot 5-of-8 from the field and 1-of-4 beyond the arc. He connected of 15-of-17 free throws to tie for 10th on Wyoming’s single-game free-throws made chart and rank fifth in Arena-Auditorium history. He also tied a career high with seven rebounds. Nance finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes. Sophomore guard Josh Adams notched 10 points for his first game in double figures since Feb. 1.
Wyoming shot 43 percent (19-of-44) from the field, but tied a season low with just one made three on nine attempts for 11 percent. UW’s 33 made free throws were a season high, while its 44 attempts were a season high. FSU’s 31 fouls were the most committed against Wyoming this season. The Cowboys outrebounded an opponent for the first time in MW play with a 35-34 advantage on the boards, while earning a 10-2 lead in assists. UW notched nine second-chance points and now has 19 over the past two games, after posting just 20 in the previous six games.
Fresno State and Wyoming were tied three times early, but the Bulldogs took the lead and held it through the majority of the first half. FSU built its lead to as many as six points midway through the half, but Nance came to life to help the Pokes close the half on a 9-3 run to go into halftime up 25-23. Nance had nine of UW’s last 11 points in the half to post 15 in the first half. Wyoming shot just 37 percent (10-of-27) in the first half and didn’t make any of its seven three-point attempts. Fresno State managed just 31 percent (8-of-26), but did make one of its four threes. The Bulldogs earned a 20-18 advantage on the boards, but trailed 5-2 in assists.
Wyoming continues its season at Colorado State on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.