Cardiac Cowboys Make Magic Once Again Rallying Past No. 24/23 Colorado State 79-76 in Overtime
• Pokes trailed by 11 points with 71 seconds left
The script may have been different, but the outcome was the same as the Cowboys erased a double-digit deficit this time with 71 seconds left in the game and won the contest in overtime over No. 24/23 Colorado State 79-76 on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. It marked the fifth double-digit comeback win for the Pokes this season and fourth in conference play, as Wyoming moves to 11-9 overall and 4-3 in conference play and 8-1 in the Dome of Doom.
It marked the first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 23 Nevada in the Arena-Auditorium on Jan. 23, 2018, by a score of 104-103 in double overtime. It was also the 113th birthday of the rivalry.
The Pokes used a 12-1 run over the final 71 seconds with Sam Griffin adding seven of the points and Mason Walters adding five and the final three points of regulation. Wyoming trailed by five points with 10 seconds left. Griffin was fouled on a three and missed the third free throw, which was grabbed by Cam Manyawu, who called timeout heading out of bounds. Walters drew a foul. He made the first and missed the second and after the cowboys got the rebound Walters tied the game with a layup as time expired.
In the overtime session, Kot added a rare four-point play with 27 seconds left to give Wyoming a two-point lead and iced the game with free throws scoring 11 points in the overtime.
“I’m almost speechless,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “For us to be down 11 with a little over a minute and for our guys to not give in and stay the course was special. We have come along ways in the last two or three weeks and that is believing we can compete at this level. To beat basically back-to-back top-25 teams on our home court it says a lot about our guys. This will be one that we celebrate tonight and get ready to find a way to win at Air Force.”
Wyoming was led by Sam Griffin with 24 points in the contest for his 10th game this season scoring 20 or more points. He also added four rebounds and four assists. Akuel Kot added 18 points with 11 of those points coming in the second half including a four-point play that lifted the Pokes to the win. Griffin scored seven of the final 12 points in regulation and Kot added 11 of the 14 overtime points for the Cowboys.
Mason Walters added 13 points including the basket that sent the game to overtime. Brendan Wenzel added 11 points and led the team with nine rebounds.
“We called Fargo with Mason Walters, a play I learned watching a Euro game,” Linder said. “We could have tried to end the game with a three pointer, but I just thought that getting Mason the ball over the top was best and he did the rest. Credit to Sam Griffin he made plays to give us a chance. The thing about Akuel is he doesn’t get tired. As the game goes on when the other team gets tired, he stays the course.”
The Pokes shot 44 percent from the field and held the Rams, who shot over 50 percent on the season to only 41 percent from the field. Wyoming struggled from the arc hitting only five on the night with the Rams hitting 10, but Wyoming outscored Colorado State 40-28 in the paint and scored 16 points off 11 turnovers by the Rams.
The Cowboys got out to a 5-0 lead holding the Rams scoreless for the first 2:45 of the opening half. The Rams would battle back to make it a 7-5 contest with five-points from Patrick Cartier and Isaiah Stevens tied the contest at 7-7. Colorado State held Wyoming scoreless for over four minutes and took a 10-7 lead.
Wyoming held Colorado State scoreless for over four minutes and added scores Caden Powell, Griffin and Walters for a 15-10 contest. Wenzel made it 18-12 with a triple, but Cartier added a pair of three pointers for a 18-18 game with under seven minutes left in the opening 20 minutes.
Kot added a three-pointer and Powell added a tip-in for a 27-22 contest at the four-minute mark of the half. Wyoming would maintain the lead for a 31-26 lead with 1:19 left in the half, despite no scoring a field goal for three minutes. UW would take a 31-28 lead at the half but went without a field goal for over four minutes to close the half.
Colorado State opened the second half on an 8-0 run to take a 36-31 lead, but Cam Manyawu added a bucket to halt the run for 36-33 game with 16:39 remaining. A spinning layup from Wenzel and a fast break slam from Kael Combs made it a 40-40 game with under 14 minutes remaining.
Manyawu gave the Pokes a 42-40 lead to cap a 6-0 run holding Colorado State scoreless for over four minutes with 12:05 remaining in the contest. The Rams would take the lead 43-42 at the free throw line a minute later. Griffin gave Wyoming a 48-46 lead with under 10 minutes left.
An 10-0 run by the Rams made it a 56-48 game for Colorado State with under five minutes left in the contest. Colorado State would enjoy the eight-point lead until Griffin added a pair of free throws for a 58-52 game with under three-minutes left.
But the Rams would push the lead to double digits with under two minutes remaining and led by 11 points with 1:11 left. Wyoming closed the game on a 12-1 run spearheaded by seven points by Griffin and five from Walters, which included the tying layup as time expired to send the game to overtime. An offensive rebound and timeout by Manyawu led to the tying basket.
Kot opened the overtime with a bucket, but the Rams used an 8-2 run to take a 73-69 lead with 2:13 remaining. Wyoming battled and made it a 74-72 game with 1:26 left in overtime on a Wenzel bucket and after a stop Kot game down and hit the four-point play and later hit free throws for the 79-76 win.
The Rams were led in scoring by Cartier with 19 points. Stevens added 17 points along with nine assists
The Cowboys hit the road next week for a two-game road swing facing off against Air Force on Tuesday evening the open the trip in a contest set for a 7 p.m. start.