Leonard Washington watched from the bench as the Wyoming Cowboys lost to UNLV, 65-42, on Saturday in Laramie. Without Washington, Wyoming struggled mightily, shooting just 17.9 percent in the first half and getting out-rebounded by the Runnin’ Rebels 47-to-25 through the course of the game.
“With Leonard, even with Luke, this team at times struggled to shoot the ball in the hole,” said head coach Larry Shyatt after the game. “We’ve had a lot of games where we shot poorly and won.”
Unfortunately for the Pokes, UNLV did not shoot poorly. The Rebels shot 50 percent from the field, hitting 27-of-54 shots. UNLV finished with four players scoring in double figures with Khem Birch, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Mike Moser and Katin Reinhardt.
“I told our players that I’m ultimately the responsible party when we do or don’t play well,” said Shyatt. “I don’t want to take anything away from Vegas, I thought they played very unselfish, I thought they played very disciplined and aggressive… but I did not think our guys showed the same passion, energy, enthusiasm, discipline and unselfishness that we have had up to this point and that was a disappointment.”
Sophomore Riley Grabau concurred with Shyatt about the way the Cowboys played against the Rebels, “We just got out-physicaled tonight. I don’t think they’re stronger. Tonight they were just stronger and faster and wanted the ball more than us. So I give them credit, we just need to come back and work harder.”
Derek Cooke, Jr. led the Cowboys with a career-high 15 points and 9 rebounds after starting a second consecutive game in Washington’s place. Derrious Gilmore added 7 points and Austin Haldorson had 6. UW shot 28.8 percent (17-of-59) from the field, 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from 3-point range and 50 percent (4-of-8) from the free throw line.
Wyoming’s next game will be on the road at Air Force on Tuesday, Feb. 27th at 7 p.m. Coverage will begin on KFBC at 6:30 p.m. Washington is still nursing an ankle which was injured in UW’s overtime win against Fresno State last Saturday and his status is still day-to-day.
“I’m sure he’ll work hard with our medical team to get ready for that game and we really need him,” said Shyatt about Washington. “But right now, this is February, closing in on March. A lot of teams are facing either tight games, tough losses, frustration and pressure, so we’re no different. We have to approach it with the same approach that we have all year and that’s tough.”