DENVER (AP) — With time running out and a defender all over him, Brett Olson pulled up for a game-deciding jumper. He got nothing but net, on the shot and the free throw that followed.
Olson converted a tie-breaking three-point play with 3.7 seconds remaining , giving Denver a 64-61 victory over Wyoming on Sunday,
“Coach called a high-ball screen for me and Chris (Udofia),” Olson said. “He put a lot of trust in me to make the right play, and I was able to knock down the shot for us.”
He had to go up and over a defender to do it, though.
“I think he’s got a really good all-around game and he’s been showing that at those times of the games,” Denver coach Joe Scott said.
“You’re just not going to get a wide-open shot to win a game. You’ve got to make a play.”
Olson finished with 23 points to lead Denver (4-5), which has won four of five since starting the season 0-4. Marcus Byrd added 14 points and Chris Udofia had 11 for Denver.
“They’re a terrific team. They’re well-coached, but there’s no coaching on that last shot. It was a great shot by Brett Olson,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. “Hopefully, we can come up with a big shot at the end of games. We were able to do that at South Dakota (last week). Tonight, unfortunately we were not.”
The Pioneers overcame a career-high 38-point effort from Larry Nance Jr. in defeating Wyoming (7-3). It was the most points in a game by a Wyoming player since Jay Straight had 41 against Colorado State on Feb. 26, 2005.
“These guys were just getting me the ball in the perfect spot to score,” Nance said. “All I really had to do was just drop it in or dunk it. The thanks goes out to my teammates.”
Nance, who played the entire game, also had 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and sixth of his career. Nathan Sobey added nine points for the Cowboys, whose only previous losses this season were to third-ranked Ohio State and No. 21 Colorado.
Trailing by nine at the break, Wyoming leaned on Nance to get back within striking distance. He scored the Cowboys’ first 11 points of the second half, nine of them coming on a trio of three-point plays to pull Wyoming to within 38-35 with 17:18 remaining.
Denver went back in front by 10 on a basket by Udofia but Wyoming again fought back, evening the score at 49-all on a layup by Sobey with 9:16 left.
Both teams kept it close the rest of the way, alternating scores in the waning minutes.
Denver was up by a point when Byrd drained a 3-pointer to push the Pioneers’ lead to 57-53 with 4:55 remaining.
A jumper by Nance tied it at 57 and after Olson responded with a jumper of his own. Nance hit two free throws to even the score again at 59-all.
Olson then made a pair of free throws, but Nance was fouled going for an offensive rebound and hit both free throws to re-tie it at 61 with 14.5 seconds left. That set the stage for Olson’s game-winner.
With Sobey applying defensive pressure, Olson hit the go-ahead 19-foot jumper despite being fouled by Sobey and then made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
Wyoming turned the ball over in the last moments without getting a shot off.
“Coach always preaches that you can never win a game if you don’t get the shot off and we really failed in that aspect,” Nance said. “We would have loved to at least get a chance at it.”
Olson’s driving layup an instant before the buzzer gave Denver a 32-23 lead at halftime.
The Pioneers pulled away from a 7-all tie with a 10-2 burst that Marcus Byrd finished with a 3-pointer. Denver led by as many as 10 points in the first half, taking 28-18 lead on a layup by Byrd with 2:45 remaining in the period.