LARAMIE, Wyo. (Dec. 22, 2013) – Junior forward Larry Nance Jr. posted 29 points and 13 rebounds for his third-straight double-double and the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team used an 18-2 run late in the second half to down Northern Colorado, 72-59, on Sunday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (8-4) connected on 69 percent from the field, including 84 percent and 4-of-4 beyond the arc in the second half, for their best shooting performance in a game since 2003.
“Our offense has come under some criticism lately, but after 12 games I believe we’re second or third in three-point shooting and second or third in two-point shooting in the league,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “The only disappointment today was our free throw shooting. We had been shooting around 70 percent from the line, and today we only knocked down 64 percent. We can do better at the line, and we’re going to need to.”
After trailing the whole first half, the Pokes took an early lead in the second half and exchanged the lead with the Bears (6-3) nine times over the next 11 minutes. Nance gave UW the lead with a dunk at the 8:30 mark and the Pokes would never relinquish it. Redshirt senior guard Jerron Granberry added a three-point play, followed by a dunk from junior forward Derek Cooke Jr., before Nance and junior guard Riley Grabau combined for three-straight threes to put Wyoming up 15 with four minutes left.
“I thought we played well defensively, starting with the last four minutes of the first half when I think we shut them out and went on about an 11-0 run of our own,” Shyatt said. “That led to the second half, when we went on another run. It was done through our defense. It was done through getting some 50-50 balls, and grabbing some loose-ball rebounds.”
Nance’s third game in the last four contests with more than 20 points came on 11-of-14 from the field, 2-of-3 beyond the arc and 5-of-9 at the free throw line. He tied a season-high with 13 rebounds, while adding three blocks, two steals and one assist in 39 minutes. Grabau tied a career high with six assists and added 10 points for his seventh game in double figures this season, while sophomore guard Josh Adams contributed 16 points thanks to an 8-of-9 showing at the charity stripe.
The Pokes hit 25 of their 36 shots for their best shooting percentage since notching 72 percent (39-of-54) against Tennessee State on Dec. 17, 2003 and added 50 percent (6-of-12) from three. UNC connected on 37 percent (23-of-62) and 22 percent (4-of-18), respectively. Wyoming earned a 31-36 advantage in rebounds, 17-6 in assists and 7-0 in blocks. UW’s seven blocks were a season high, while its 17 assists were its second most.
The Bears dominated much of the first half by hitting four of their first five shots to take an early lead and went on an 8-1 run at the 10-minute mark to go up 22-10. The Cowboys took momentum into halftime, though, with an 8-0 spurt to close the half down just 28-26. Nance kept the Pokes in the game with 14 points in the first half and added six rebounds. As a team, Wyoming shot 53 percent (9-of-17) from the field, but committed 10 turnovers that Northern Colorado converted in to 13 points. The Bears hit on 40 percent from the field in the first half (13-of-32), as both squads hit two threes.
Wyoming starts 2014 against Western State at 2 p.m. MT on Jan. 1 in the Arena-Auditorium.
–UW Sports Information Office