Wyoming falls to Air Force 55-53


Senior guard Nathan Sobey scored a team-high 18 points and had an attempt at the game-winning three with three seconds, but the shot came up short and the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team dropped a 55-53 Mountain West contest to Air Force on Tuesday night in the Arena-Auditorium. It was the sixth conference game decided by a single basket this season for the Cowboys (17-11, 8-7 MW).

“I did expect another close game tonight because that has been the way we’ve played all season, whether it be in November or February, we have gone toe-to-toe with every opponent,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “Both halves tonight were very similar. I thought we fought back hard. I thought our energy may be zapped a little bit because we were having such an awful shooting night, but you know our defensive energy was pretty good. We held them to 55 points.”

Wyoming trailed the Falcons (11-15, 5-10 MW) by four at halftime, but Sobey came out of the break with a personal 7-2 run, including several dunks and drawing a charge, to push the Pokes back in front, 32-29. The two teams would exchange the lead nine more times down the stretch until Air Force made five free throws for a 54-50 lead with 20 seconds left. Sophomore guard Josh Adams made a three to bring UW back within one and the Falcons made just one of their free throws with 11 seconds left to give the Cowboys a chance to tie or win. Sobey had a shot from the right side of the arc, but it bounced off the front of the rim and AF grabbed the rebound to seal the win.

Sobey shot 8-of-12 from the field and added two threes, as he reached double figures for the third-straight game. He has averaged 19.6 points over that span. He also grabbed four rebounds and a career-high three steals. Redshirt senior guard Jerron Granberry contributed a career-high 14 points on 7-of-10 from the field, while sophomore guard Josh Adams added 11 points. Junior forward Derek Cooke Jr. earned his fifth double-figure rebounding game this season with 11 boards.

“We just can’t come up that dry shooting,” Shyatt said. “Our three guards, Adams, Grabau and Washington, just picked a night where they went 3 of 22 from the field. We just don’t have that margin of error to shoot that poorly and come out with a win. We almost won it. We had some pretty good execution to get a three for Josh (Adams) with 13 seconds to go. Then we were looking for a similar play on the other side of the court with about three second to go, but it didn’t happen. It was disappointing not to win, but not disappointing and not surprising that we took the game right down to the wire with a chance to win it.”

Wyoming shot 40 percent (20-of-50) from the field, but just 20 percent (4-of-20) from deep and 53 percent (9-of-17) at the free throw line. Air Force barely managed better at 38 percent (17-of-45) from the field, 23 percent (5-of-22) beyond the arc and 70 percent (16-of-23) at the line. The Falcons earned a 37-29 advantage on the boards, but trailed 15-9 in turnovers. The Cowboys have had less than 10 turnovers in their last two games. UW topped the 30-point mark in points in the paint for the ninth time this season with a 32-14 advantage against Air Force.

Both teams began the game slow, as the two combined to start 2-of-12 from the field. The Pokes were able to etch out a four-point advantage and held it through the first eight minutes, before a 10-1 run from the Falcons gave them their largest lead of the half at 18-12 with just over eight minutes left. The Cowboys were able to fight back within one point, but Air Force hit a three to go into halftime up 27-23. Both teams shot 36 percent in the first half, but the Falcons hit 3 of their 14 three-point attempts compared to just 1-of-7 for Wyoming. The Falcons also earned a 20-16 lead on the glass. Granberry paced the Pokes with eight points, while Adams added seven and Cooke had seven rebounds.

Wyoming hosts Boise State on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.