RENO, Nev. (Jan. 3, 2018) – The Wyoming Cowboys battled, but could not overcome nine-straight made shots by Nevada to close the first half and open the second frame in a 92-83 loss to the Wolf Pack in the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. on Wednesday. The loss drops the Pokes to 10-5 on the season and 1-1 in Mountain West, as the conference favorite Wolf Pack move to 14-3 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.
“Going on the road you tell your team you need to play near perfect basketball,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I appreciated the fight we had tonight night, I thought timely situations in the second half hurt us long term.”
The Pokes were led in scoring by junior guard Justin James, as he poured in a career-high 30 points. He is the third Poke with 30 or more points in a game this season joining seniors Hayden Dalton and Alan Herndon. James hit a career-high 13 free throws, while adding eight field goals. He is averaging 21.5 points per game on the road this season and needs only 13 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
Senior guard Louis Adams also added a career-high with 23 points off the bench. He went 9-of-10 from the free throw line, a new career high in made free throws. He also added a season-high seven rebounds. Herndon led UW with 11 rebounds and added 12 points for his second double-double of the season.
“Justin James and Louis Adams were really good for this game with their ability to get to the rim and attack,” Edwards said. “I wanted them to put the ball on the floor and attack and with Hayden (Dalton) not being able to play as many minutes it forced Alan (Herndon) to play all 40 minutes, but he did a great job defending the paint.”
The Pokes shot 38 percent from the field with the Wolf Pack shooting 43 percent including shooting 50 percent from behind the arc going 11-of-22. The Pokes shot 84 percent from the line hitting 27-of-32 attempts, the 27 makes was the most since hitting 27 against Fresno State on Feb. 8, 2017. Nevada held the advantage on the glass 45-41 with 11 offensive rebounds for 22 second chance points.
“It was a learning experience for us tonight,” Edwards said. “I thought we had our opportunities to come in here and steal one, we just came up short. I told our guys with what we are trying to do this season, we have to go into hostile environment and win games.”
After struggling out of the gate offensively in the opening three minutes, the Pokes used a 5-0 run on back-to-back baskets to take a 5-3 lead. Herndon started out the scoring with a triple followed by a fast break layup from James that was sparked by a steal from sophomore guard Cody Kelley.
Both teams opened 2-of-13 from the field through the first seven minutes until a 6-3 run by Nevada pushed the Wolf Pack’s lead to 11-8, as the Nevada scored on three-straight trips down the floor. Adams came in and gave UW a spark of the bench scoring five-straight points, as Wyoming took a 14-13 lead halfway through the frame.
A scoreless drought of nearly five minutes allowed Nevada to go on a 7-0 run to take a 20-14 lead on the Pokes with seven minutes remaining in the first half. James scored five straight points for the Pokes to cut the Nevada lead to 23-22 with 4:22 left in the opening frame.
The Pokes took a brief 26-25 lead thanks to two-straight free throws from both James and Adams off a technical foul with a little over three minutes remaining in the first half. James shot the technical freebies with Adams connecting on both of his of being foul on the fast break. The two teams closed out the half strong, as Nevada hit their last five field goals to take a 36-33 lead into the break.
The Pokes recorded 11 turnovers in the opening frame and were held to 31 percent from the field and 27 percent from behind the arc. But the Pokes were solid from the free throw line connecting on 11-of-13 attempts.
The Wolf pack hit their first four shots of the first half to take a 47-39 lead on the Pokes at the 17:20 mark of the second half. It was part of nine straight made shots for Nevada to close out the first half and open the second frame. The lead went to double digits (50-39) on a three pointer by Kendall Stephens moments later.
James cut the deficit to six points at 53-47 with 13:28 remaining. James got to 21 points on that bucket, as he finished a steal with a fast break dunk. Nevada moved the lead back to double-digit on a three pointer by Hollis Cook to make it a 63-53 game with 11:14 left in the second stanza.
The Pokes battled back to make it a 9-4 run to make it a 70-66 game with 6:59 remaining in the contest. The UW bench fueled the run with seven points from senior guard Alexander Aka Gorski and Adams. The Pokes kept it within four points with under five minutes remaining with two three pointers coming from Aka Gorski and Herndon.
Cody Martin hit back-back threes for Nevada to push the Wolf Pack lead to eight points at 83-75 with 2:38 remaining in the contest. The Pokes battled, but could not recover, as UW fell 92-83.
Cody Martin led the Wolf Pack in scoring with 22 points and 12 rebounds. His twin brother Caleb added 19 points and Jordan Caroline added 18 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. All five starters scored in double-figures for the Wolf Pack.
The Cowboys return home to host Boise State on Saturday for a 6 p.m. start in the Arena-Auditorium. That game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet.