BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Miss after miss, Spencer Dinwiddie grew more and more frustrated by his usually trustworthy jumper.
So, the Colorado junior decided to ditch it and just drive, leading to fouls and plenty of trips to the free-throw line.
Dinwiddie went 10 of 13 from the line in the second half and finished with 15 points to help Colorado hold off Wyoming 63-58 on Wednesday night and halt a six-game skid against the Cowboys.
“I’ve said this many times about Spencer: he can affect a game in a lot of different ways. It doesn’t have to be scoring, doesn’t have to be shooting,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “When you find a way to win when you don’t play your best and your best player is not playing his best, that’s a good sign.”
Askia Booker added 14 points and Josh Scott chipped in 12 along with nine rebounds as the Buffaloes (2-1) beat the Cowboys (1-1) for the first time since 1996. Colorado was ranked last season heading into this game in Laramie, Wyo., only to lose and fall out of the top 25. The Buffaloes never made it back into the polls.
That’s why this one meant a lot — a little vindication.
“I know I said earlier they’re not a rival, and I stand by that, but they are a big game,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re glad we won.”
Even if it wasn’t all that pretty in a game that featured a combined 48 fouls and 27 turnovers. The Buffaloes had just four assists, making this the first time they’ve won with that few since Dec. 19, 1977, at Jacksonville.
“If you were looking for the definition of the phrase ‘winning ugly,’ I think you saw it tonight,” Boyle said. “Wasn’t our best effort, but I was really proud of our guys for finding a way down the stretch.”
Dinwiddie was a big reason, stealing a pass with 32 seconds remaining and hitting two free throws to seal the win. Josh Adams had 15 points for the Cowboys and Larry Nance Jr. contributed 10 before fouling out.
“My mindset is we took no positives tonight,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. “I don’t know if we’ve found ourselves yet.”
Dinwiddie is still searching for the elusive touch on his jumper. He led the team in scoring last season, but is now 6 of 24 from the field for the season.
“I’m really like, kind of frustrated right now,” Dinwiddie said. “I feel like I’m letting the team down by having a subpar shooting performance. I feel like my shooting percentages are keeping people in the game.”
Nathan Sobey gave Wyoming a 47-46 lead with 7:57 remaining on a long 3-pointer. He had a chance to extend the lead even more from the same spot, but missed everything and the ball went out of bounds.
From there, the Buffs scored on a put-back by Scott and then a 3-pointer by Booker to reclaim a 51-47 lead with 5:19 remaining. The Buffs wouldn’t trail again.
“They’re really tough to beat,” said Nance, whose team was outrebounded by a 35-24 margin. “They were a little bit more physical than us.”
With the score tied at 18 midway through the first half, Colorado guard Jaron Hopkins was given a technical foul for hanging on the rim as he tried to grab a rebound. The call incensed coach Tad Boyle and inspired the Cowboys, who went on a 10-0 run to gain some separation.
The Buffs made a late charge, but Wyoming took a 31-26 lead into the locker room.
Scott came up big on the boards all night.
Over the summer, Scott bulked up to 245 pounds to become more of a physical presence inside, especially in the rugged Pac-12 and in the absence of Andre Roberson, who left for the NBA. The extra 20 pounds is paying off in the paint as he powered over the Cowboys for rebounds. He even drew a couple of charges.
“I bulked up so I could make an impact in games like this,” Scott said. “Last year, I probably would’ve had six points and two rebounds in a game more physical like this.”
Shyatt signs 3 high school prospects to Wyoming
CHEYENNE (AP) — Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt announced the signing of three high school basketball prospects who he says will help the Cowboys become a “competitive contender” in the Mountain West.
Shyatt announced Wednesday that Diontae Jones, of Las Vegas, Jeremy Lieberman of Calabasas, Calif., and Jonathan Barnes of Parker, Colo., all signed national letters of intent. They will join the Cowboys for the 2014-15 season.
“If I had to combine all three, the one common denominator is these guys are basketballholics,” he said. “They love the game. Their work ethic is terrific.”
Shyatt, who returned to Wyoming as head coach two years ago, said the Cowboys basketball program has improved in various ways, including academics, and now is the time to start becoming more competitive on the floor.
“Our next change has to be a commitment to become a contender and a competitive contender in our league, which is one of the best leagues in America,” he said. “And these three guys, they can send that message because down the road, they’re all going to be able to give us that impetus I believe.”
Jones is a 6-foot-6, 185-pound forward who averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a game as a junior last season at Clark High School.
Lieberman is a 6-1, 175-pound point guard who averaged 18.1 points and six assists in his junior year at Calabasas High School.
And the 6-10, 250-pound Barnes averaged 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds in just his second year of playing organized basketball at Ponderosa High School.
Barnes said he chose Wyoming over other colleges, including Utah, LaSalle and Pepperdine, because he liked the sense of family among the team.
“Basketball is a team sport. You really have to rely on that sense of family, of coming together, being a band of brothers so to speak, and coach Shyatt has fostered that within the program,” Barnes said.