Wyoming Won The National Championship 76 Years Ago Today
Today marks the anniversary of Wyoming's greatest sports moment. 76 years ago today, Kenny Sailors and the Cowboys defeated St. John's to claim the 1943 National Championship.
Two days earlier, on March 30th, the Pokes beat Georgetown to win the NCAA Tournament. Sailors scored 16 points in the final game, was named Most Outstanding Player and won the Chuck Taylor College Basketball Player of the Year Award.
But the Cowboys weren't done yet. In those days, there was more than one national champion in college basketball. After St. John's won the NIT Tournament title, Wyoming coach Everett Shelton challenged the Red Storm to play a benefit game to crown an outright champion and raise money for the Red Cross war effort.
On April 1, 1943, the two title teams squared off in New York City. Over 18,000 fans packed Madison Square Garden to witness the back-and-forth battle. After Wyoming's All-American center Milo Komenich fouled out, St. John's rallied from six points down in the final minute to send the game into overtime. In the extra session, Wyoming guard Jim Weir hit two hook shots and added a pair of clutch free throws to secure the Pokes 52-47 victory.
“Never have I had a band of boys whose team spirit was such that you could almost see it and feel it,” Wyoming coach Everett Shelton told reporters. “In every game, I felt that that spirit gave us a sixth man on the floor.”