Wyoming Cowboys tally first 20-win season in nine years after beating TCU

2012-02-28T22:13:00Z 2012-02-29T17:46:02Z Wyoming Cowboys tally first 20-win season in nine years after beating TCUBy ERIC SCHMOLDT Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 28, 2012 10:13 pm  • 

LARAMIE -- Leonard Washington approached Larry Shyatt and told him he had to start five seniors in Wyoming's final home game.

Shyatt, the Pokes' first-year coach, couldn't help but be nervous that his veteran group might let the emotions of a pregame ceremony get to them.

It turns out he had nothing to worry about.

The Cowboys' seniors scored the team's first 15 points of the game, quickly jumping out to a double-digit lead and sprinting to a 71-59 victory against TCU for their 20th victory of the season at the Arena-Auditorium on Tuesday night.

"We all talked about how much we've put into this over the years and all the 7 a.m. workouts and open gyms," UW senior guard JayDee Luster said. "We just didn't want to leave here with a bad memory. We've had enough of those over the past years.

"We wanted to finish strong."

The Cowboys saved arguably their best all-around performance of the Mountain West season for last.

Shyatt, who had used the same starting lineup in 26 of 28 games this season, instead opted to start his five active seniors -- Luster, guards Francisco Cruz and Arthur Bouedo and big men Adam Waddell and Rob Watsabaugh.

By the time Shyatt subbed in usual starters Luke Martinez and Washington, UW had raced out to a 15-6 lead.

"I don't know if I've ever seen a better performance on a night that could've been emotional, and these guys refused to be emotional," Shyatt said. "From the get-go, even with those five seniors, they got us off to a lead the right way.

"The script couldn't be written any better."

Instead of the Pokes struggling through the emotions, it was the Horned Frogs that came out flat.

They entered the night just one game out of the three-way tie for first place in the MW but allowed the Pokes to serve up their most impressive offensive outing in league play.

"In a game like this, we didn't play hard enough," TCU coach Jim Christian said. "I have no idea [why].

"Sometimes you have nights like that."

The Cowboys -- bolstered by 19 points and five assists from Cruz and eight assists from Luster -- posted 18 assists and just one turnover while shooting nearly 54 percent.

The Horned Frogs trailed by 10 at halftime and only crept back in the game momentarily when they trailed 47-42 in the early moments of the second half.

Waddell and Washington promptly put an end to those hopes when Waddell followed up a slam dunk with an alley-oop lob to Washington.

"We were just executing on offense. Guys were clicking on every cylinder," Washington said. "Eighteen assists and one turnover, that's really good. To be honest, I've never seen it."

Washington posted his second consecutive double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

But Tuesday night, and the Pokes' first 20-win season since 2003, belonged to the Pokes' senior class.

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