BOISE, Idaho – When Boise State and Wyoming last met on a basketball court, both teams were without key players.
The Broncos had suspended four, including the team’s best scorer Derrick Marks. The Cowboys were without senior guard Luke Martinez, who had been injured, then suspended due to legal trouble.
Saturday’s rematch was to showcase the two teams at full-strength. But, to Wyoming’s detriment, that didn’t happen.
With Boise State’s roster re-stocked (all players have returned from the suspension that came from a violation of team rules), Wyoming’s was lacking. The Pokes were without sophomore forward and starter Larry Nance Jr.
The result was a Wyoming team that simply didn’t have enough. The Cowboys lost 68-61 at Taco Bell Arena as their record fell to 16-7, 2-7 in the Mountain West. The Broncos improved to 16-7, 4-5 in the league.
Nance’s health had been a question heading into the game. Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said Thursday the 6-foot-8 forward that had started every game this season was still hurting from a fall that happened in UW’s last outing.
Shyatt said Nance had taken a tough fall on his wrist during Wyoming’s 61-53 victory against Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday, a non-conference contest that had been scheduled in the middle of UW’s Mountain West season.
"Larry took a drive late in the game, was upended and landed hard on his wrist," Shyatt said. "It hurt some, but knowing Larry's pain threshold, he will be fine Saturday night."
Nance warmed up with his teammates prior to the start of the game, favoring his taped right wrist the entire time. When the announcement of the teams’ starters came, his name was not included. Instead, Torrington native and freshman guard Jason McManamen started for the first time in his career as UW presented a four-guard look alongside senior forward Leonard Washington.
With Nance (10.5 points per game) on the bench, the Cowboys struggled to produce on offense.
Senior guard Derrious Gilmore, as he did in the Cowboys’ loss to Colorado State one week ago, carried the Pokes. He scored 15 first-half points and finished with 26. Washington was the only other player to score in the game’s first 20 minutes. He had four, and the Cowboys entered the locker room trailing 37-19.
The Cowboys started the second half on a spurt. First, McManamen found the net, followed by freshman guard Josh Adams. By the time Washington -- who finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds -- hit a 3-pointer with 13 minutes, 24 seconds to play, the Cowboys had cut the 18-point Boise State lead to 11 (45-34). But Boise State’s Mikey Thompson quashed the run with a 3-pointer on the following possession.
Again, Wyoming made a push -- this time late in the game. It started when Gilmore netted a 3-pointer with 4:01 to play. The Cowboys then chiseled Boise's 11-point lead down to single digits. Between Boise State's problems closing the door and UW's determination to keep clawing back, the Cowboys pulled within five points (66-61) with 18 seconds left. It wasn't until Boise's Marks sank two free throws in the final seconds that the game's outcome was sealed.