Cowboys falter down stretch in loss to No. 7 OSU
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - It was a homecoming of sorts for Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt and forward Larry Nance Jr.
In the end, it wasn't necessarily a happy one, however.
Nance Jr. had 17 points and 12 rebounds and the Cowboys led by four points in the second half but faltered down the stretch to lose to No. 7 Ohio State, 65-50, on Monday night.
Shyatt, a Cleveland native who played for and graduated from the College of Wooster, cracked a joke about his return.
''I'd like to say it's great to be back in Ohio but it's not so great to be back in Ohio,'' he said with a smile after his team failed to make any of its 11 shots from the field over the final 10:01.
Nance, however, relished the chance to come to his home state.
''It was really cool to get back home,'' said Nance, an Akron native and the son of the former Cleveland Cavaliers star. ''Obviously, it's like a dream come true playing on this court.''
Almost an hour after the game, Nance was posing for pictures with friends and family and receiving congratulations for giving the Buckeyes all they could handle.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 20 points and hit five critical 3-pointers and Aaron Craft scored all 10 of his points in a second-half surge to lead the Buckeyes (5-0). Amir Williams added 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds - six more than his previous best.
Wyoming (4-2), down as many as 10 points in the first half and by four at the break, went on a 9-0 run to build a 43-39 lead with just over 14 minutes left.
Riley Grabau hit a pull-up 3-pointer on the break, Josh Adams added a three-point play on a dribble drive and then Nance had a free lane for a rebound dunk.
Whatever Ohio State coach Thad Matta said during the next media timeout worked.
''We came into the TV timeout and just looked at each other and said, `Hey, they're a great team. That was their run and now we've got to respond,''' Craft said.
The Buckeyes stormed back, scoring the next six points to take a 45-43 lead on Craft's second consecutive driving layup in traffic.
On the inbounds pass, Ohio State's Shannon Scott got tangled with a Cowboy and appeared to shove him away with his forearm, resulting in a technical foul. Grabau hit both technical shots to tie it.
But Smith hit a 3 from the left corner to give the Buckeyes the lead to stay.
The Buckeyes suddenly starting taking control with their defense.
The Pokes scored just two points from the 13:06 mark until Nance, fresh from sitting out with four fouls, hit two free throws with 4:48 remaining.
''Wyoming is a very, very, very, very good basketball team,'' Matta said. ''The job that coach Shyatt has done, we knew there were going to be some problems going into this game. The fact that we allowed them to shoot 56 percent in the first half - quite honestly, it was like a layup clinic.''
Shyatt, however, did not wish to count it as a moral victory that his team hung around with the Buckeyes. He felt most of the problems in the final 10 minutes were a result of unforced errors and mistakes.
Still, he believes the Cowboys have a bright future.
''I've been doing this for 40 years and I don't know how many times losses have helped us. It sounds good, it makes good print,'' Shyatt said. ''But I like our team, I like our connectiveness and I like the way we are on and off the court. We don't have some of the symptoms of other ballclubs. Because of that, I think we're going to be good all year.''
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