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Cowboys Clutch in Road Win at Air Force

Cowboy players huddle

A 13-0 run late in the game propelled the Wyoming Cowboys to their first win in Mountain West conference play 64-to-53 at Air Force Wednesday night. Four Cowboys scored in double figures led by Junior Luke Martinez and Senior Pako Cruz with 15 points apiece.

Wyoming (15-3, 1-1) hit 11 straight free throws in the final 1:32 to pull away for the victory. The win snaps a 16-game conference road losing streak. Ironically, the last conference road victory for the Cowboys was at Clune Arena in 2009 over the Falcons.

Leonard Washington scored 13 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, had a block and 3 steals for UW, while Adam Waddell contributed 11 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists.

Air Force (11-5, 1-1) was led by Mike Fitzgerald with 13 points and Justin Hammonds with 10.

The game was a grind it out, possession-by-possession, defensive slug-fest from the start. Wyoming led 11-7 at the 11:11 mark before the Falcons went on a 14-2 run and pulled ahead 21-13 with 4:44 left in the first half. After the teams traded free throws, UW responded with a 7-0 spurt to end the half and trailed 23-22 at intermission.

In the second half, there were two lead changes and four ties before Air Force surged ahead 46-42 on a lay-up by Shawn Hempsey and a dunk by Michael Lyons. That’s when UW came alive. Martinez hit a three and a jumper for five quick points that ignited the decisive run over a four minute span. The 55-46 advantage was too much for the Falcons to overcome.

The Cowboys shot 50 percent (20-40) from the field, including 63 percent in the second half. They were 6-of-16 from beyond the arc for 37.5 percent. Wyoming finished 18-of-26 (70 percent) at the line, but knocked down 11-of-their-last-12. They also forced 16 Falcon turnovers.

Air Force hit 20-of-41 (49 percent) field goals, but were only 4-of-13 (31 percent) from 3-point range. They went 9-18 at the charity stripe and out-rebounded the Pokes 26-to-23.

Wyoming returns home Saturday for the first edition of the “Border War” in basketball. Colorado State visits Laramie at 4 pm Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium. ┬áCoverage will start at 3:30 pm on KCGY (FM 95.1), with Cowboy Talk to follow.

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