LARAMIE (AP) — Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr., the leading shot-blocker in the Mountain West Conference, showcased his defensive prowess during crunch time Saturday, swatting away several San Jose State shots and helping the Cowboys to their second straight victory.
Nance, who was averaging 3.3 blocks per league contest, added five more in a 67-56 win on Saturday, including four down the stretch. While his blocks fired up both his team and the crowd, he also methodically put up his seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds, tying his high for boards this year.
Josh Adams scored 16 points and had a career-high seven assists while Nathan Sobey added 10 points for the Cowboys (11-6, 2-2).
D.J. Brown paced San Jose State (6-12, 0-6) with 18 points while Devante Wilson had 13 and Chris Cunningham 10.
The Spartans, now losers of six straight, drew within 52-48 after a 14-foot jumper by Jalen James, but Charles Hankerson Jr. answered with a 3 for Wyoming, which then held San Jose State scoreless for nearly 5 minutes.
Adams drew a foul while fighting for an offensive rebound and made the subsequent free throws to put the Cowboys up 59-48 with 4:02 remaining, and the Spartans got no closer than nine down the stretch.
“This is one of the best team wins we’ve had all year,” Nance said. “We’ve got three guys in double-digit scoring and one (Trey Washington III) with eight. That’s a full night of everybody playing basketball.”
The Cowboys have had three different leading scorers (Adams, Riley Grabau, Nance) in their first four conference games.”Not having just a go-to guy, and different guys (stepping up) at different times helps build this team better,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said.
Grabau, who entered as the nation’s leading 3-point shooter at 51.9 percent, went 0 for 6 from beyond the arc.
Washington came off the bench to score all eight of his points during a 2-minute stretch, including back-to-back 3s that snapped an 8-all tie and gave Wyoming breathing room early.
“Trey was outstanding today,” Shyatt said. “But you know what’s been more impressive? Trey Washington’s becoming a pretty doggone good defender. He was not in the fall.”
San Jose State Coach Dave Wojcik saw his team miss 12 of its first 15 shots, including the first five long-range attempts.
“I thought we had wide-open looks to start the game. We just didn’t make the shots,” he said. “At this level you have to be able to make those shots, because now it changes (the Cowboys’) mindset a little bit defensively.”
Wyoming outshot San Jose State 51 percent to 37 percent but was outrebounded 32-29. The Cowboys have lost the battle of the glass in all four league games.