Wednesday was senior night for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team, but it was really Josh Adams Night. The Cowboys’ lone senior tallied 28 points and six assists to pull the Pokes to an 81-78 win over San Jose State in the Arena-Auditorium. The total gave Adams UW’s single-season points record and helped the Cowboys (14-17, 7-11 MW) hold off the Spartans (8-21, 3-14 MW) late in a game that featured 24 lead changes.
“What can I say about Josh Adams?” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “I’m so happy for him. I’m happy for his family. They were all able to get here and surprise him, and they saw a vintage Josh Adams’ game — from start to finish.”
Wyoming trailed by two with 10 minutes left in the game after a three from San Jose State, but that’s when Adams and freshman forward Jordan Naughton took over. The two combined for 21 of the Cowboys’ last 23 points to put the Pokes in front by four with 13 seconds remaining. The Spartans would make one last run to cut the lead to one, but Adams made two free throws with three seconds left and SJSU’s desperation three at the buzzer fell just short.
On a night that was dedicated just to him, Adams sent the 6,617 Poke fans in the Double A home happy with another stellar performance. He entered the game just seven points shy of Flynn Robinson’s school-record 701 points in 1964-65 and eclipsed that midway through the first half en route to his 21st 20-point game this season. He went 15-of-17 at the free-throw line for fifth in makes and eighth in attempts in facility history, while his six assists are his sixth game with at least five in the last seven contests.
“This was an important game and it really meant a lot to me for Josh [Adams], and I think our players played their hearts out for Josh,” Shyatt said. “I don’t think it was one of our best performances. When you win 81-78 — for me — it doesn’t feel the same as 53-51, but it’s a new team. I think they will be considerably better defensively down the road, but we just don’t have the physicality right now to stop some of these teams. We found a way tonight, and hopefully next week we’ll find a way and follow that miracle run again. Hopefully, they’ll be plenty of Brown and Gold in Vegas to follow us.”
Adams had plenty of help Wednesday night, though. Junior guard Jason McManamen chipped in 16 points, including three triples, and has made 90 triples on the season. Naughton finished with career highs of 11 points and six rebounds, while sophomore forward Alan Herndon had 11 points as well. Wyoming improved to 7-1 this season when four Cowboys score in double figures.
The Cowboys connected on 53 percent (24-of-45) from the field for the game, their eighth game over 50 percent this season, but just 32 percent (7-of-22) from deep. UW’s seven threes were its second fewest this season and fewest since six against San Diego State on Dec. 30. San Jose State made 47 percent (27-of-58) and 35 percent (9-of-26), respectively, and earned a 33-30 advantage on the boards. Wyoming’s 26 made free throws and 38 attempts were its second most in both categories this season. The Pokes had 10 turnovers against the Spartans, their seventh game with 10 or fewer in the last 13 contests. Wednesday’s 24 lead changes and 15 ties were both season highs for the Cowboys.
Wyoming has a bye for the final weekend of the regular season, before opening play at the 2016 Mountain West Championships on March 9th in Las Vegas.