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Washington Leads Wyoming Past CSU, 70-51

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

A big double-double from Leonard Washington combined with solid team defense gave the Wyoming Cowboys a 70-51 win over rival Colorado State on Saturday in front of the largest men’s basketball crowd Laramie has seen in six years.

Three’s from JayDee Luster and Leonard Washington got the scoring going early for Wyoming and they would never surrender the lead. CSU’s leading scorer, Wes Eikmeier, made his only bucket of the day with 10:34 in the first half, to make it a 16-10 game. UW’s defense buckled down for the next four minutes, holding Colorado State scoreless while going on an 8-0 run to build up a 14 point lead. The Rams would try to chip away, but the final four points of the half went to Wyoming on two free throws and a transition layup by Luke Martinez to put the halftime score at 32-19.

While CSU scored 19 points in the first half as a team, Washington would score 19 points for Wyoming on his own in the second, starting with a put-back dunk just after halftime. The Rams hit their final field goal of the day with 8:03 still left in the game, settling for free throws the rest of the way. Washington hit two trey’s in the final minutes as the shot clock expired, sending Wyoming fans into a near frenzy.

After the game, Washington claimed he didn’t realize it was his night until it was over. He simply credited his teammates, said he was just focused on hitting the boards and playing his heart out. Teammate Luster was quick to boast on Washington’s behalf, “I don’t know how he didn’t notice, but I was out there telling Coach, ‘Keep Leonard in the game and get Leonard the ball. Second half, I felt like he carried us.”

Washington powered Wyoming (16-3, 2-1) with a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds. Luke Martinez scored in double figures for the sixth straight game with 12 points while JayDee Luster contributed 9 points and 5 assists without committing any turnovers. The Pokes shot 43.4 percent (23-53) from the field, 42.1 percent (8-19) from beyond the arc and 80.0 percent (16-20) from the foul line. UW had 15 assists to 9 turnovers and outrebounded CSU 35-24.

“I really liked our edge the whole game,” commented head coach Larry Shyatt after the game. “Whether it’s been after a couple good wins or after a couple tough losses, our team has kept their focus all year and stayed the course. This team knows who it is and who it isn’t.”

The Rams (13-5, 2-1) entered Saturday’s contest leading the Mountain West in three-point percentage at 49.7 percent. Colorado State started the game going 0-for-4 from deep the Cowboys held them to 29.4 percent (5-17) for the game. CSU’s 51 points were a season low for the Rams and the loss put an end to an eight-game winning streak. They were led by Greg Smith with 18 points and 6 rebounds.

Saturday’s attendance was a season-high at 7,901. It was the largest crowd for the Cowboys since 9,314 against UNLV on Feb. 19, 2005.

“I can’t thank the crowd enough,” was the praise from Coach Shyatt. “I want to reach out to our students and our fans who maybe haven’t been to a game in awhile or who haven’t experienced what the Double A atmosphere can be like with a big crowd. We have a very good San Diego State team coming to town on Tuesday night, and I hope our fans will come out and make the atmosphere as undisciplined and exciting as possible on Tuesday, just like they did today.”

Wyoming will continue MW play on Tuesday when they host San Diego State University in the Arena-Auditorium. Tip off is set for 6:30 p.m. with coverage beginning on KCGY-FM (95.1) at 6:00 p.m.

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