Wyoming Edged by Air Force, 72-66
Feb. 26, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -
Junior guard Nathan Sobey posted a career-high 22 points and senior forward Leonard Washington added a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but the University of Wyoming men's basketball dropped a tightly-contested 72-66 Mountain West game at Air Force on Tuesday night in Clune Arena.
"I thought [Air Force] attacked us off the dribble tonight better than any team this season," UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. "They utilized their system and winning on the road is not easy if you don't guard the ball well. I am very disappointed with our defensive effort tonight. Offensively, we relied on those jump shots early and they didn't fall late."
In a game that featured five lead changes and four ties in the second half, Wyoming (18-10, 4-10 MW) pulled within three with just over a minute left, but couldn't any closer. Air Force (16-10, 7-6 MW) made a layup on its ensuing possession and make one free throw down the stretch, while holding the Pokes without another point.
Sobey became the fifth different Cowboy to pass the 20-point mark this season, as he blew past his previous career-high of 10. He went 7-of-7 from the field, 2-of-2 at the free throw line and 6-of-6 beyond the arc to tie the MW single-game record for three-point percentage. Wyoming's David Adams went 6-of-6 beyond the arc on Dec. 17, 2003 against Tennessee State, while TCU's Black Adams did the same at UNLV on Feb. 7, 2007.
"[Sobey] played terrific on the offensive end tonight, but he equaled that on the other end," Shyatt said. "He played tenacious on the defensive end and put his body in harm's way."
After missing the last two games with an ankle injury, Washington returned in a big way with his fourth-consecutive double-double. He is the first Poke to accomplish the feat since Justin Williams in 2005-06, who also missed time with an injury in between his third and fourth double-double. Sophomore guard Riley Grabau notched 12 points thanks to four treys, while he and senior guard Derrious Gilmore both had five assists each.
Wyoming broke out of its recent offensive funk with 40 percent (22-of-55) from the field and 33 percent (10-of-30) beyond the arc. UW's 10 threes are the most for the Pokes on the road this season, while its 30 attempts were a season high. One of the best shooting teams in the MW, Air Force connected on 51 percent (26-of-51) from the field, but just 17 percent (3-of-18) from deep. AFA earned a 35-27 advantage in rebounds, but trailed 17-15 in assists.
It was a game of runs in the first half, as the two squads exchanged the lead five times with three ties. Wyoming hit on four of its first six shots for a quick lead through the first five minutes, but Air Force responded with an 11-2 spurt to retake a 20-15 lead midway through the half. The Falcons pushed the lead to seven, before three-straight treys from Sobey sparked an 11-3 run to put Wyoming back in front. AFA quickly retook the lead, but another Sobey three with 30 seconds left in the half gave UW a 38-37 lead at halftime.
Sobey went 5-of-5 beyond the arc in the first half for his 15 points, while Washington added nine points, six rebounds and two assists. After scoring season lows of 13 and 12 first-half points in the previous two games, the Cowboys knocked home a MW-season high 38 points in the first half against AFA. The Pokes connected on 48 percent (13-of-27) from the field and 43 percent (7-of-16) beyond the arc to 45 percent (13-of-29) and 21 percent (3-of-14) for Air Force. Air Force outrebounded Wyoming 16-14 in the first half, but UW earned an 11-8 advantage in assists.
The second half was more of the same with five lead changes and four ties. Wyoming extended its halftime lead to as much as four on a Grabau three early, but Air Force fought back to tie the contest several times through the middle minutes. A 9-2 run by the Falcons from the nine-minute mark to the five-minute mark pushed AFA in front for the stretch run.
Wyoming continues its season at No. 14/14 New Mexico on Saturday at 3 p.m. MT.