Cowboys Lost Game, Control of MWC Tourney Destiny

The Cowboys can put up the help wanted sign.

They put themselves in a hole on Tuesday night in the effort to avoid a first-round game in the MWC Basketball Tournament.

With a chance to take hold of one of the top five spots in the final standings the Cowboys were defenseless in a 119-114 loss to New Mexico at the AA, the highest scoring game in the 36-year history of the facility.

And they slipped into sixth place in the MWC with a 7-6 record, a half-game back of fifth-place UNLV (7-5), which hosts Fresno State Wednesday night.

And here is the rub: The Cowboys have road games remaining at third-place Fresno State, which overwhelmed them at the AA earlier this season, and second-place Boise State, an overtime loser at the AA earlier in the season, and a home game with Air Force. 

With Alan Herndon limited to seven minutes because of an illness, the Cowboys were basically without one of the key parts to their lineup, but even that doesn’t explain how the Cowboys gave up 119 points in what was the third highest scoring game in Cowboys’ history, and the most points ever allowed by the Cowboys at the AA.

They lost to then No. 21 Southern Mississippi  122-112 on Dec. 29, 1990 in Capser, and lost to No. 15 loyolaMaryton 119-115 in the 1988 NCAA tournament.  Forget about the fact the Cowboys hit 58 percent of their shots from the floor. New Mexico, after all, shot 62 percent in a defenseless effort by the Cowboys.

And New Mexico jumped into sole possession of fourth place in the MWC with a 9-6 MWC record while the Cowboys slipped to sixth at 8-7, a game behind the fourth-place Lobos and a half game back of Fresno, which plays Wednesday night.

It wasn't pure defensive disappointment. The Cowboys offense fed into New Mexico's success.

The Cowboys did, after all, turn the ball over on four of five positions to open the game. And after they fought back to be down by only two at the half, and scored the first five points of the second half to go up by three, the Lobos went on a 12-0 run, fueled by three Wyoming turnovers.

"I thought the turnovers caused it," Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said. "One would say, 'Well, your defense was bad.' Well, when you turn it over and they go score in transition, that's not your defense. That's your offense, at the end of the day.

"It did hurt, because I thought we fought in the first half to put it half to where we had 20 minutes of basketball to win the game. And then, for them to come out that way, it hurt us."

The Pokes were led by senior guard Louis Adams, who came off the bench and scored a career-high 31 points. Senior forward Hayden Dalton added 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while junior guard Justin James added 23 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, and 10 points from free throws. It marked the first time since Feb. 16, 2002 that three different Cowboys scored 20 or more points.

“You have to adjust and go play a game of basketball.  Al (Herndon) woke up this morning not feeling well,” Edwards said. “He tried to give it a go, but he wasn’t the same Al.  In a sense, you want to say next guy up, but Al is a big part of what we do, especially on the defensive end of the floor with his basketball IQ and his ability to protect the rim.”

Tracy RingolsbyComment