LARAMIE — Make no mistake, the Wyoming men’s basketball team’s game Saturday against San Jose State was a regular-season finale, as the Arena-Audtiorium crowd lauded Cowboy seniors Jason McManamen and Morris Marshall on Senior Day.
But with the seventh seed of the Mountain West tournament on the line, the game was akin to Wyoming’s first game of the postseason.
The Cowboys passed the test, outlasting the Spartans for a sloppy 74-62 win.
Wyoming, which will open next week’s conference tournament against either Air Force or UNLV, ended the regular season 18-13 overall and 8-10 in conference. In Allen Edwards’ first season as head coach, the Cowboys finished with four more wins and one more conference victory than the year before.
McManamen had nine points on 3-of-8 3-point shooting in his final regular-season game in Laramie. The Torrington native and program leader in made 3-pointers addressed the crowd after the game.
McManamen and Marshall were honored with a pregame presentation and framed jerseys.
Marshall started his first game as a Cowboy and recorded a rebound, a turnover and a foul before subbing out at the 16:53 mark in the first half. He hurt his knee on an awkward fall and did not return, but afterward was in high spirits nonetheless.
Justin James led Wyoming with 15 points. Alan Herndon scored 13, and Hayden Dalton added 11 in his second start of the season. Jeremy Lieberman and Kelley were also in double figures with 10. Kelley’s 10 matched a career high. It was Wyoming’s fourth game this year with five players scoring 10 or more points.
San Jose State’s Brandon Clarke led all scorers with 20 points and Ryan Welage had 19. The Spartans had 16 turnovers before halftime, the most in a half by any Wyoming opponent all year.
Wyoming itself had nine turnovers before halftime, and had just one more point off turnovers than San Jose State in the half: 17 to 16.
The Cowboys’ 3-point shooting, meanwhile, continued to be steady. Wyoming hit its first five attempts from behind the arc and 6 of 9 in the half. Even the Spartans had some luck from deep, making 3 of 7 in the half, with one coming on a bank shot and another coming from Clarke. He entered the game having shot just two 3-pointers this season, both misses.
The Cowboys pushed their lead to six points six times before finally breaking through, going up by as many as 15 late, thanks to a 10-1 run. Kelley had five points during that stretch and seven points in the game’s final 4 minutes.
With the loss, San Jose State (14-15, 7-11) will be the No. 9 seed and face No. 8 Utah State in the first round.
Air Force lost to Boise State 98-70 on Saturday and Fresno State defeated UNLV on Saturday evening, meaning the Air Force will face Wyoming on Wednesday as the No. 10 seed by tiebreaker.