GAME NOTES: Coming off their first win in five tries, the Wyoming Cowboys now attempt to take down another member of the Mountain West Conference on Saturday as they challenge the Boise State Broncos at Taco Bell Arena.
Three nights ago, the Cowboys took a break from their league schedule to battle Cal State Bakersfield and barely got by with a 61-53 victory on the road. The win snapped a four-game slide and was just the third for the team since opening the campaign on a 13-0 run.
With regard to MWC action, the Pokes are just 2-6, having begun their league slate with a 63-61 home loss against this same Boise State squad back on Jan. 9. In that game, the Broncos rode Jeff Elorriaga to the victory as he drained 6-of-10 shots behind the 3-point line, including the game winner at the buzzer. However, even with that triumph the Broncos still trail in the all- time series against Wyoming, 10-6.
As for BSU, the team was also in action a few nights ago against San Diego State on the road and nearly pulled off a minor upset before bowing by a single point, 63-62, at Viejas Arena. The defeat was the third in the last four outings for the Broncos, and knocked the team down to 3-5 in conference play.
The Wyoming defense was all over Bakersfield the other night, holding the hosts to a mere three field goals in the first half, although in the second half the Roadrunners battled back to make the final score more respectable, but a loss still nonetheless. Larry Nance Jr. led the way for the visitors with 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while Derek Cooke Jr. came off the bench to log a double-double of his own with 12 points and 13 boards. Getting back to conference play, the Cowboys are scoring just 52.1 ppg in such outings, but at least the team is making things interesting by limiting the competition to only 56.6 ppg. Leonard Washington leads the way with 12.5 ppg and 8.4 rpg, while Derrious Gilmore accounts for another 12.3 ppg, thanks to his 20-of-53 shooting beyond the arc where the team is hitting only 29.5 percent overall through eight league bouts.
Battling back from a 17-point, first-half deficit, the Broncos made things very interesting on Wednesday when they took a 3-point lead with 3:20 remaining in regulation before a late 3-pointer by Chase Tapley pushed the visitors into the loss column. Elorriaga and Mikey Thompson both tallied 16 points for the Broncos, the former adding seven assists along the way, but at the same time the pair shot just 11-of-29 from the floor. Kenny Buckner gave the group a lift off the bench with 10 points and seven boards, but it wasn't enough to offset the poor 3-of-13 shooting performance by Anthony Drmic. Derrick Marks, who also came in under double figures versus SDSU, still leads the team in scoring overall with 16.6 ppg, thanks in large part to his 109- of-127 showing at the charity stripe. Drmic (15.9 ppg) and Elorriaga (10.8 ppg) have combined to make 115 3-pointers in order to give the squad a perimeter presence.
Without Luke Martinez, their leading scorer before he was injured and suspended, the Cowboys are a completely different team, which means Boise State shouldn't need a buzzer-beater to pick up the win this time.
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