* A University of Wyoming press release contributed to this report

LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team dropped its first round Mountain West Conference Tournament game Wednesday. No. 9-seeded Fresno State rallied for a 77-73 victory over the No. 8-seeded Pokes inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

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The Bulldogs advance to the quarterfinals where they’ll face top-seeded Utah State on Thursday at 1 p.m. Wyoming finishes the year at 15-17 overall.

"We knew after we beat them by 39 four days ago that wasn't going to be the precedent of the team that we saw today," UW head coach Jeff Linder said, referring to an 86-47 victory just four days ago inside the Save Mart Center. "We knew that we'd see a team like the team we saw when we had to beat him at the buzzer a couple months ago in our place. So give them credit for finding a way to win that game, which I thought we put ourselves in a position to win. But, at the end of the day, you have to be able to finish."

The Cowboys didn't do that.

Fresno State erased a nine-point deficit with 4:36 left in regulation and capped this upset with a 12-1 run. Wyoming didn't hit a single field goal over the final 3:20.

To make matters even worse, Linder's squad missed 11 free throws in the loss.

"We just weren't getting stops," Brendan Wenzel said. "It's my fault, too. I had a lot of fouls. I wasn't making shots either. I don't know. It's tough. They had offensive rebounds, they made free throws, we didn't. It all comes down to the little things. That turnover at the end that I had, you just can't have things like that if you want to win."

That giveaway came on what would be the Cowboys' final possession of the game. Xavier DuSell, Wyoming's former guard, was the thief. Jalen Weaver would sink both free throws.

Akuel Kot paced the Pokes, pouring in 23 points. Sam Griffin added 19 points and six assists, while Brendan Wenzel chipped in 15 points. Mason Walters led the way on the glass with nine rebounds to go alongside his seven points.

Isaiah Pope led Fresno State with 22 points. Donavan Yap Jr. came off the bench to score 16 points.

The Bulldogs closed the game on a 12-1 run. Wyoming owned a 72-65 advantage with 3:20 to play in the game after Wenzel buried a 3-pointer, however, only managed one free throw from Kael Combs from then on out.

The Pokes recorded a pair of threes early in the contest to take a 6-5 lead in the opening two-plus minutes. A turnover by the Bulldogs led to a triple from Kot for a 12-7 lead at the 15:16 mark of the opening frame.

Wyoming went scoreless for over two and a half minutes with Fresno State making it a 12-9 contest. Wyoming went on a 5-0 run and took a 17-9 lead off a triple from Kael Combs with 12:03 left in the half. Fresno State would battle and make it a 20-18 game for the Cowboys with under eight minutes left in the half.

The Bulldogs would hit four-straight buckets and make it a 25-24 game for Wyoming with just over five minutes left in the half. Griffin took over to fuel a 7-0 run for a 32-24 lead with under four minutes left in the opening half. Kot made it a 10-point game, but State answered back for a 40-33 lead for Wyoming at the break.

Fresno State would break into the Cowboy lead early in the second half, but the Pokes would push the lead back to seven points until a pair of free throws and layup from Donovan Yap made it a 44-41 game for UW with 16 minutes left. Fresno State would make it a one-point game a minute later.

The Bulldogs held the Pokes scoreless for over three-minutes and take a lead until Griffin hit a three for a 47-45 game with under 14 minutes left. Fresno State tied the game at the line with under 13 minutes left and took the lead a minute later.

The teams traded leads for the next several minutes until Wyoming went on a 10-0 run fueled by Griffin and Wenzel to take a 67-58 lead with 5:50 left in the game. Fresno State would push the contest four-point game with under four-minutes left on a three-pointer.

"We put ourselves in a position to win," Linder said. "Sometimes you just don't get the breaks. We've gotten a lot of breaks. We've been really good in close games. If it's a close game, our record has been really good, but just a couple of turnovers, the missed free throws, a couple of those fouls where they didn't have to really earn the basket, those things add up and it cost us."

Wyoming Team Notes:

•The Cowboys are now 16-24 all-time in the MW Championship.

•The Cowboys are 2-4 all-time in the MW Tournament under head coach Jeff Linder.

•The Cowboys are 17-23 all-time against Fresno State.

•The Cowboys are 0-2 all-time against the Bulldogs on neutral floors.

•The Cowboys hit 12 threes for back-to-back games with 10 or more threes. Wyoming has done that seven times this season.

•The Cowboys recorded xx steals in the game. The previous season high was 11 against College of Charleston

Player Notes

•Guard Sam Griffin recorded 19 points for his 27th game in double-figures. He has 13 points at the half.

•Guard Akuel Kot recorded 23 points for his 25th game in double-figures. He led the team with 14 first half points.

•Kot recorded his eighth game with 20 or more points this season.

•Mason Walters recorded nine rebounds for his fourth game with seven or more rebounds in his last five contests.

•Brendan Wenzel recorded 15 points for his 18th game this season and 31st of his career.

•Griffin dished out 6 assists for the most since.

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