LARAMIE — Alexander Aka Gorski's family traveled 17 hours and 4,834 miles from Sweden to see him play Wednesday night. Lou Adams' father made the trip from Chicago to see his son play at the Arena-Auditorium for the first time.
The game they saw might not have given them the most accurate sense of what Wyoming basketball has been like under second-year coach Allen Edwards; the Cowboys allowed fewer points than it had in any game this season, and scored fewer points than they had in any win.
But the family members of Wyoming's four-man senior class saw the Cowboys do exactly what they needed to do on Senior Night: finish their regular-season home schedule with a 66-54 win over Air Force.
"It just felt good, especially to be able to come out (of) here with the win," fifth-year senior Alan Herndon said. "I think that's what we were really focused on, making sure that we didn't get too much into emotion and, 'Oh, it's Senior Night,' and let that kind of take over us. We knew we had a game to go out there and win."
Junior Justin James led all scorers with 18 points. Adams and fellow senior Hayden Dalton each scored 12. Herndon had nine points and three blocks. But it wasn't a night for big statistics on the Pokes' end, save their 12 steals. It was a night for a critical win.
The Cowboys (19-11 overall, 10-7 Mountain West) moved back into a tie for fifth-place with San Diego State. With another win or losses from UNLV and the Aztecs, the Cowboys can secure a first-round bye at the Mountain West tournament. Nevada led UNLV by more than 20 points in the second half late Wednesday.
Air Force (11-18, 5-12) began Wednesday's game with a flurry of points from Ryan Swan. Swan scored the Falcons' first 10 points of the game and 12 of their first 15, as Air Force opened an early four-point lead. The Cowboys came alive and pushed their lead to as many as nine, though, with a 13-4 run after Swan tied the game at 15. Still, the lead was just three going into halftime, thanks to a trio of treys from the Falcons in the last 3:26.
"I thought early on and at points of the game, our energy wasn't great," Edwards said. "And even leading up into this game, you can get emotional on nights like this because of our seniors and having four of them. And sometimes, you think you're just supposed to win because of that. And I think we had some of that in us."
The second half was a half of runs. Air Force began the period with a 9-2 run to build a four-point lead, matching its largest. But after the teams traded baskets, Wyoming matched its largest lead of the game to that point with a 19-6 run. Sure enough, Air Force responded with a 6-0 stretch. But Wyoming then went on a 9-0 run of its own, putting the game away.
Adams had a lot to do with that key 19-point stretch in the middle of the half, which gave the Cowboys their final lead. The Odessa (Texas) College transfer scored eight unanswered points by himself to cap it off.
Still, it might have been his eight rebounds, tied for a team high, that led to the loudest of the "Looou" chants by the crowd of 5,731.
"I always joke with the staff about stuff like that," Edwards said. "Because as I yelled at (Adams), you would have thought he played bad tonight. Because I was on him pretty much the whole night.
"But, again, I love him, because he can take it and not let it affect him. And when I subbed him out and got him back in, I thought he did a great job just playing within himself."
Air Force had 19 turnovers in the game, tied for the third most by a Wyoming opponent in conference play. The Cowboys had 15 turnovers of their own.
"I don't think that was anything we focused on at all," Aka Gorski said of forcing turnovers. "We were just focusing on being solid, and we just ended up getting solid and getting hands on balls."
Wyoming honored its seniors, all of whom started, with a ceremony before the game. Adams made his second start of the year and Aka Gorski made his 10th.
This was the Front Range foes' one and only meeting this regular season. Air Force is the only Mountain West team Wyoming was not scheduled to travel to this season.
The Cowboys' last game against Air Force was in the first round of last year's Mountain West tournament. Though Wyoming had swept the Falcons in the regular season, Air Force got off to a 25-0 lead in that game, tying a Mountain West record, and the Cowboys never got any closer than 15 after that. Air Force built a much smaller cushion to start Wednesday's game: 4-0.
Sophomore forward Andrew Moemeka was not active Wednesday because of a "lower-body" injury. As expected, freshman starter Hunter Maldonado was out with an ankle injury.
Wyoming finishes the regular season with a game Saturday at second-place Boise State. The Cowboys beat the Broncos on Jan. 6 in Laramie.