LARAMIE, Wyoming (Ticker) -- Uche Nsonwu-Amadi used his 6-10 size when Wyoming needed him most.
Nsonwu-Amadi scored on a dunk and a layup to give Wyoming the lead for good in a 78-71 victory over Eastern Washington in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Making its fourth appearance in the NIT in the last six years, Wyoming (21-10) will play North Carolina in the second round.
Eastern Washington (18-13) played in the NIT for the first time. Chris Hester led the Eagles with 19 points in his final college game.
Donta Richardson scored 15 of his 24 points in the first half when the Cowboys built a 41-33 lead.
But after Eastern Washington fought back and tied the game at 54-54 on a jumper by Hester with 9:42 left, Nsonwu-Amadi powered inside for a dunk and followed with a layup with 8:40 remaining.
David Adams, who had 15 points, converted a three-point play with 6:30 left to increase the lead to 61-54.
Two free throws by Hester ended a scoring drought of 4:45 for Eastern Washington and a layup by Alvin Snow, who finished with 17 points, pulled the Eagles within 61-58 with 4:15 remaining.
But Richardson responded with a 3-pointer with 3:47 left and the Cowboys converted all 12 of their free-throw attempts in the final 2:56. Six of the free throws were by Jay Straight, who had 16 points.
"Their guys made some big shots," Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti said. "We just couldn't get over the top with it. But I'm proud of our guys effort. That's the kind of mentality that builds the foundation to which you can take the next step from."
Nsonwu-Amadi finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.