LARAMIE — Wyoming likes to play fast. Eastern Washington likes to play slow.
Speed killed last week as the Cowboys outpaced the Eagles 91-81 to advance to the second round of the CBI, their first postseason invitational tournament win since beating Lehigh in the 2013 NIT.
It was Wyoming’s first game since losing to 10th-seeded Air Force in the first round of the Mountain West tournament, a game that the Falcons began with a 25-0 lead.
The Cowboys (19-14, 8-11 Mountain West) had their best shooting game of the season, making 58.3 percent of their shots from the field and 61.1 percent from the 3-point line.
Per Ken Pomeroy’s tempo rankings, which measures a team’s possessions per game and adjusts for opponent, Wyoming is the 11th most up-tempo team in the country. Eastern Washington is 251st.
The Eagles, who finished second this year in the Big Sky, got 29 and 26 points out of junior Bogdan Bliznyuk and senior Jacob Wiley, respectively.
Eastern Washington (22-12, 14-6 Big Sky) tied Wyoming four times in the first 10 minutes before taking its first lead of the game at 10-8 on a Bliznyuk layup. But the Eagles wouldn’t make a 2-point basket in the half’s remaining 11:04. Alan Herndon answered eight seconds later with a 3-pointer at the 10:56 mark to kick off a 23-6 Wyoming run that included a 10-0 spurt and took less than 7 minutes.
Junior Lou Adams helped fuel the run. He checked in with just over 12 minutes left in the half and hit 4 of his first 6 shots, including a 3-pointer. All nine of his first-half points came during the run. He also had two rebounds and two assists in the first half, during which he played just nine minutes.
Eastern Washington ended a 4:16 drought with a 5-0 run to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 10 but wouldn’t get any closer before halftime. Bliznyuk matched Wyoming sophomore Justin James’ 10 first-half points.
The Eagles opened the second half with a 10-1 run, cutting the deficit to three for the first time since 8 minutes remained before halftime. After shooting 5 of 14 from 3 in the first half, Eastern Washington hit three 3-pointers in the first 4 minutes of the second half, getting two from Wiley. Wiley finished the game with three triples on four attempts. The Big Sky’s player of the year had attempted just three 3-pointers all season before Wednesday, making two.
A Felix Von Hofe 3-pointer cut the lead to two points, and a three-point play by Wiley inched the Eagles within one. Wyoming responded, however, with a 9-0 run aided by missed Eastern Washington layups and capped by a Hayden Dalton 3-pointer.
The Eagles shaved the lead to seven twice but were unable to get within two possessions as Wyoming made 16 of its final 23 shots.
James, a sophomore, and freshman Andrew Moemeka made their first starts of the season for Wyoming. James, who started three games as a freshman hit both his 3-point attempts in the first half on his way to 10 of his team-high 19 points. Moemeka’s two first-half points came on a thunderous putback slam off a Jason McManamen miss. Moemeka had two in the second half as well and three total rebounds to go with three turnovers.