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Wyoming Survives First Round of CBI, Beat Bison 78-75

(TSM Photo)

Behind 22 points and 11 rebounds from Leonard Washington, the Wyoming Cowboys beat the North Dakota State Bison 78-75 in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium. It was UW’s first post-season win since an NIT victory over Eastern Washington on March 20, 2003.

Wyoming (21-11) held on down the stretch for their 21st win of the season. Up by one with 4 minutes left, a mini 5-0 spurt highlighted by an Adam Waddell jam gave the Pokes the breathing room they needed. Washington made a huge 3-point play with 18.5 seconds remaining, but the Cowboys still needed three free throws in the final 8 seconds to seal the victory. Wyoming finished 29-of-41 at the foul line.

Washington recorded his sixth double-double this season. He also had two blocked shots and a steal. Francisco Cruz added 14 points and Waddell scored 13. Luke Martinez contributed 9 points and 10 rebounds, all on the defensive end. UW hit 54 percent (22/41) of their shots from the floor and 26 percent (5/19) from beyond the arc.

North Dakota State (17-14) had five players score in double figures. They were led by TrayVonn Wright with 15 points. The Bison shot 47 percent (27/57) from the field and 41 percent (7/17) from 3-point range.

After each team settled in, the first half was a game of runs. It featured 6 lead changes and 4 ties. UW trailed 9-5 less than three minutes into action, when they went on a 15-4 run and gained a 20-13 lead. The Bison responded with a 13-5 spurt of their own and rallied for a 32-28 edge with 4:28 left in the half. The Pokes answered with 8 points from Larry Nance, Jr. and eventually went to the break tied at 37. Washington’s 70-footer at the buzzer glanced off the front of the rim.

The Cowboys opened the second half on a 12-2 run and seemed to take control at 49-39 with 16:08 remaining. The lead reached 11 points, at 55-44, but the Bison steadily chipped away. A 15-6 burst pulled them even with Wyoming at 61-all with 7:39 left. However, they never regained a lead, and UW held on.

The Pokes will travel to Pullman, Washington to take on Washington State on Monday, March 19. It will be the first meeting between the two schools since the 2005-2006 season. The Cougars beat San Francisco 89-75 on Tuesday night. Game time is at 8 pm, Mountain Time with coverage on KCGY (FM 95.1) starting at 7:30 pm. Cowboy Talk with David Settle will follow the game broadcast.

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