Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
No Leonard Washington = Rough Night In San Diego
Leonard Washington made the trip to San Diego but was doubtful due to an ankle injury suffered at the end of the victory over Fresno State. Even with Washington at full strength the Cowboys (18-8,4-8) would have had a hard time competing with the Aztecs on their home court. When the news broke that Leonard was officially out you knew things were not looking up. Reports of a flu ridden Larry Nance Jr. who needed an IV prior to the game was an extra layer of bad news.
Wyoming was already thin depth wise but losing the teams best scorer, rebounder and shot blocker was a huge loss. Didn't really expect things to turn out this poorly in the first half. After the teams traded baskets for the first several minutes it looked like Wyoming would be able to keep this game close. That is when the Aztecs (19-7, 7-5) went to work and put on a huge nine minute run where they outscored the Cowboys 23-1. That really dug the dagger in quickly and there was no way Wyoming could do much with a 37-13 deficit at halftime.
Derek Cooke Jr. started the game but he was injured as well after playing just 10 minutes. Larry Shyatt was forced to dig deep on his bench and was able to get nice performances out of two players that haven't seen much playing time in conference play. Austin Haldorson put up five points in 15 minutes and showed a nice outside shot. I was able to see the potential he possesses and think that having a forward his size that can hit from long range will be a very nice weapon to have over the next three years. In the surprise of the century Matt Sellers was the second leading scorer for Wyoming. The rarely used center scored 10 points on five of six shooting in just nine minutes of play in the second half. Derrious Gilmore led Wyoming with 15 points.
Despite their improved performance the Cowboys were still outscored 42-38 in the second half. There aren't reallym any numbers that are very favorable for Wyoming. The Pokes shot 16.7% from the field in the first and 37% for the game. They were outrebounded 16 to 35. 16 Aztec turnovers held give Wyoming several badly needed possessions.
This was really was a perfect storm of a game as Wyoming was depleted and performed poorly while the Aztecs were HOT HOT HOT. San Diego State shot 68% (15-22) from the field in the first half and also the second half. Exact same numbers shots of baskets and attempts. It is nearly impossible to stop any team that is shooting nearly 70%.
At least this game was early in the week. Wyoming will now have three full days to recover from the trip and injuries before hosting UNLV on Saturday. That extra day rest is certainly needed right now as Wyoming will need to be at full strength if they want revenge upon the Rebels.