LARAMIE — Blood and tears were not a visible part of the Wyoming men’s basketball team’s contest Saturday against Drake at the Arena-Auditorium.
But sweat? Oh, there was plenty of that.
“My wife gets on me all the time about this, but I sweat,” Cowboys head coach Allen Edwards said. “Just without any reason at all. And tonight, they gave me even more of a reason to sweat. Armpits. It really gets going.”
The Cowboys missed nearly half of their free-throw attempts, and Wyoming missed shots that could have won the game at the end of both regulation and overtime. But the perspiration led to celebration for the Cowboys, as they hung on for a 96-89 win over the Bulldogs in double overtime.
Wyoming senior Alan Herndon set career highs with 32 points and six made 3-pointers, and multiple Cowboys recorded double-doubles for the first time in the Edwards era.
The game was part of this year’s Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, an event in which Wyoming is now 5-2.
Coming off a sluggish loss at Denver, the Cowboys (6-2) were energetic early, building a double-digit lead on a 13-3 run that was capped by a Justin James alley-oop dunk in transition. Drake (4-3) responded, though, with a 14-0 run as Wyoming went more than 6 minutes without a point.
From then on, though, the game was blow for blow. The Cowboys awoke from their slumber with Hayden Dalton’s first 3-pointer of the game and entered the half trailing by a point.
Neither team led by more than five in the second half. The Cowboys did hold a two-point lead and the ball with just over half a minute to play, but James was fouled to the line and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Drake tied the game with a pair of De’Antae McMurray free throws, and James’ shot in the final seconds fell wide.
In overtime, Wyoming took a 3-point lead with 37 seconds to play on Herndon’s sixth 3-pointer, but Drake’s Reed Timmer sunk a 3 of his own with 24 seconds left to even the score. This time, it was Dalton who took the potential game-winner, but his layup couldn’t break the stalemate, and James’ fadeaway off the rebound also went awry.
In double overtime, the Pokes needed no final possession. They opened the period with an 8-2 run, and James’ 3-pointer with 35 seconds to go pushed Wyoming’s lead back to two possessions.
Herndon (32 points and 10 rebounds), James (24 points and 12 rebounds) and Dalton (17 points and 14 rebounds) all had double-doubles. Herndon also matched a career high with five assists. Andrew Moemeka had four steals, setting a new career best for him. The win came in Wyoming’s first overtime game since a quadruple-overtime defeat of Fresno State in February.
The Cowboys had entered the game 43rd in the nation with a 76.8 team free-throw shooting percentage. Saturday, they needed some late makes to even break 50 percent, sinking 13 of 25.
“Well, I blame myself,” Edwards said. “Actually, I told the staff, ‘We’re not shooting enough free throws in practice.’ You try to crunch so much stuff into practice, and sometimes you forget some things. And I think by the wayside free throws (fell).
“Because I’m a very optimistic guy. I just think we’re a good shooting basketball team, and I think we’re a good free-throw shooting team. … But we’ve got to find some time within practice to get up more free throws.”
Drake, for its part, converted on 23 of 29 free throws (79.3 percent), including two they were given for a Lou Adams technical in the second half. The referees decided Adams had hung on the rim too long on his baseline dunk — a call the Wyoming faithful vocally disagreed with.
Then, after Nick McGlynn celebrated his dunk by beating his chest, the Arena-Auditorium chose to boo the Drake forward on each of his touches until he fouled out in the second overtime.
The crowd of 4,853 might have been at its loudest when Adams swatted a second-half shot deep into the seats.
“It was nice, coming to the home fans, having them being loud and giving us energy,” James said. “Our mindset coming into this game was, ‘We’re coming in to dominate, we’re coming in to defend, and we’re coming in to win.’
“And that’s what we did.”
The game cut the Missouri Valley Conference’s lead to 5-4 in this year’s inter-conference challenge. San Diego State hosts Bradley on Sunday with a chance to tie it.
SATURDAY: Wyoming defeated Drake 96-89 in a double-overtime contest at the Arena-Auditorium.
AL STAR: Alan Herndon set a career high with 32 points, making a career-high six 3-pointers.
HELPING THE LEAGUE: The game was part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge and gave the Mountain West a chance to end this year’s series in a 5-5 tie.
HE SAID IT: “Our mindset coming into this game was, ‘We’re coming in to dominate, we’re coming in to defend, and we’re coming in to win.’ And that’s what we did.” — Justin James.
NEXT: Wyoming at South Carolina, 5 p.m., Wednesday.
Wyoming 96, Drake 89, 2OT
Saturday, at Laramie
DRAKE (89): Nick McGlynn 9-21 2-2 20, C.J. Rivers 3-4 1-2 7, De’Antae McMurray 3-11 5-7 11, Reed Timmer 7-11 10-10 28, Ore Arogundade 1-5 0-0 2, Jalen Gibbs 0-2 0-0 0, Graham Woodward 3-12 3-4 10, Noah Thomas 1-3 0-0 3, Casey Schlatter 3-7 2-4 8. Totals 30-76 23-29 89.
WYOMING (96): Alan Herndon 12-21 2-6 32, Hayden Dalton 7-13 1-2 17, Nyaires Redding 0-2 0-0 0, Justin James 8-20 6-9 24, Alexander Aka Gorski 1-10 0-0 3, Andrew Moemeka 2-3 0-0 4, Cody Kelley 3-7 0-0 8, Hunter Maldonado 0-2 0-0 0, Brodricks Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Lou Adams 2-4 4-8 8. Totals 35-83 13-25 96.
3-point goals: Drake 6-17 (Timmer 4-5, Thomas 1-2, Woodward 1-5, Rivers 0-1, McMurray 0-2, Arogundade 0-2) UW 13-40 (Herndon 6-12, Dalton 2-4, James 2-5, Kelley 2-6, Gorski 1-9, Maldonado 0-1, Jones 0-1, Adams 0-1, Redding 0-1). Rebounds: Drake 52 (Timmer 10) UW 52 (Dalton 14, James 12, Herndon 10). Assists: Drake 18 (River 4, Timmer 4, Arogundade 4) UW 28 (James 6, Herndon 5, Kelley 5, Dalton 4). Steals: Drake 6 (Rivers 2) UW 11 (Moemeka 4, James 3). Attendance: 4,853.