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Cowboys drop hard-fought Border War matchup against CSU

UW Cowboy Kael Combs goes for a basket in traffic during his team's loss Saturday. (via UW Athletics)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Wyoming Cowboys dropped a hard-fought battle against Colorado State on Saturday, falling to the Rams 70–62.

The Pokes battled to tie the contest with six minutes left, but CSU would hit baskets late to earn a season split of the series.

“We knew it was going to be a tall task knowing a sense of desperation on their part to get into the NCAA Tournament,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We knew we were going to have to weather the storm of their energy early and I thought we did a great job of that. We were in position late, but they play so well together and have played a lot of basketball together and that is what was the difference late.”

The Pokes were led by Cam Manyawu, who added 15 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth game in the last eight with nine or more rebounds. It was also the seventh double-double of the season for him. Mason Walters added 12 points and eight rebounds. Sam Griffin added 10 points for his 24th game in double-figures. Brendan Wenzel added 11 points for double figures in nine of the last 10 games.

The Pokes were held to 38.2% from the field on the afternoon and added only five three-pointers. Wyoming defended the line well, allowing only five threes and zero in the second half. Colorado State shot 42.6% from the field and held a 42–33 advantage on the glass.

The Rams got off to a 5–0 lead with the Pokes missing their first four shots of the contest. The Pokes would make it a 7–5 contest with a three-pointer from Griffin at the 15:16 mark of the opening half. After Akuel Kot tied the game at 7–7, the Rams went on a 4–0 run.

The Pokes would cut the lead to two points, but a three-pointer by the Rams made it a 17–12 contest with just over 11 minutes left in the first stanza. A three-pointer from Wenzel made it a 22–20 game for the Rams with under nine minutes left in the half.

Kael Combs tied the game at 22–22 at the 6:55 mark and Manyawu gave the Pokes a 24–22 lead as part of an 8–0 run, with Wyoming holding the Rams scoreless for nearly five minutes. A 5–0 run by the Rams gave them a 27–24 lead with four minutes left in the first half.

Wyoming went without a field goal for over five minutes, with the Rams moving the lead to 30–25. The Rams would take a 33–27 lead into the half, holding Wyoming to 30% from the field.

After the cowboys hit their two baskets of the second half, the Rams would push the lead to nine points at 43–32 with under 17 minutes left in the game, going on an 8–0 run.

The Pokes went on an 8–0 run of their own over 90 seconds to make it a 45–42 contest in favor of the Rams with 13:33 left in the game. Combs made it a 48–46 game with under 12 minutes left. Wenzel made it a one-point game via a triple with just over 11 minutes left.

The Rams would push the lead to five points with a pair of buckets halfway through the second half. CSU would make it a seven-point game until a pair of buckets from Walters for a 57–54 game with 7:30 left. Kot tied the game at 57–57 at the 6:05 mark, but the Rams took the lead right back with a basket.

Wyoming would make it a one-point game, but another Ram answer by a bucket and an and-one play made it a 66–60 game for the Rams with 3:20 remaining. The Rams would lock down defensively and take the game late 70–62.

The Rams were led by Joel Scott with 20 points. Nique Clifford added a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cowboys return to action on Tuesday, hosting Air Force in the Arena-Auditorium for a 6:30 p.m. start on Senior Day.

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