Mountain West play has begun and after a tough loss in the conference opener at CSU the Cowboys were ready for the home opener. Wyoming’s first home Mountain West game came Saturday against a really good New Mexico team. New Mexico came into this game with only three losses on the season. The players knew they would be in for a battle but a lock down defense and a hot offense gave the Cowboys an early lead. Seven minutes in the Cowboys were shooting 71% while holding the Lobos to 33% from the field. At the 9:57 mark, Harrison hit a big three to give the Cowboys a four point lead and a little momentum but New Mexico kept it close. The speed of the Lobos gave Wyoming some trouble late in the first half and shifted the momentum to New Mexico. These troubles saw New Mexico go on a run. A questionable blocking foul called on Luster added to the struggles Wyoming was facing. Following the foul Jackson had a block which sparked a fire for the Cowboys. Wyoming put up a fight and Harrison nailed a three as the buzzer sounded to give the Cowboys a one point lead entering the half.The second half started with both teams struggling to get anything going. It was not until Desmar went to the line over a minute into the half that either team added points to the score board. The second half found the Cowboys in a shooting slump. Wyoming did not get a field goal until the 15:20 mark in the second half. Even with the bad luck shooting the Cowboys were only down by one after making their first second half basket. A minute later Gordon was fouled and missed both free throws for the Lobos. Wyoming got the rebound and at this point they started to get their thunder back. This led to a seven point Cowboy run that came to an end when a foul sent the Lobos back to the charity stripe. With 57 seconds left New Mexico drained a three to tie the game. The game came down to the wire but in the end Cruz came up big. Cruz dropped in the game winner releasing the ball right before the clock hit 0. After a review of the shot the crowed went crazy when it was signaled the shot was good.
The first half of the game was physical but the second half became much more physical. With both teams stepping up the physical play the second half saw a lot of fouls for both teams. At times the fouls slowed the pace of the game but it never lowered the intensity. Both teams had players in fouls trouble but this did not slow either team down. As the second half neared the end players started to foul out. This meant with the game on the line these players could only sit on the bench and watch. Not only was the game physical it was also a very fast paced game. The fast tempo worked well for both teams but there were times when it appeared to be too much. The fast pace and tough defenses caused both teams to have high numbers in the turnover column.
Adam Waddell has struggled all season due to injuries in the past. His struggles have been not only hard on him but the whole team. He has been limited in his minutes because his knee has not been able to take the stress. He said Christmas break helped his knee heal and he showed it was feeling better on the court. He played 23 minutes Saturday and was very productive. He put up 16 points which was only one behind Harrison who led the team. Adam led the team with eight rebounds while also getting two blocks and a steal. The team was glad to have him back and they all hope that he is able to keep playing at this level. After the game he claimed that he felt great and believes he will be able to continue playing this way. Even if he is not back to 100% it was great that he was able to play as well as he did against a really good team.
Wyoming may have struggled to get shots to drop at times during the game but when it mattered most they got them to fall. It is not very often that a game has buzzer beaters at the end of both halves and it is even more rare for one team to have both buzzer beaters. The fact that the Cowboys were able to sink both of these buzzer beaters was amazing and the fact that they did it against such a good team made it even better. In the last few years Wyoming has played the Lobos hard at home but New Mexico kept taking these close games. For Wyoming to finally get a home win against the Lobos was great accomplishment which was made better by the way they won it. Fans love a when their teams wins by a large margin but they love it just as much when their team wins in the fashion that Wyoming did in this game.
After the game Cruz had to be the happiest person in Wyoming. The look on his face showed the joy he was feeling and the way he was talking made it appear his deed had not fully caught up with him yet. When he was asked about his game winning shot his glow became more intense. The answer he gave was simple and showed how humble he is, “It was just luck man.” He shot a three with seven seconds left and he said he was sure that shot was going to go in. It did not go in but he got a rebound off Harrison’s miss and with only two seconds left threw it up and that one did drop. He did say he knew the shot was on time and when it left his hands he knew it was going in. Coach Heath Schroyer said, “It was the longest 30 seconds” and went on to say, “It felt like 30 minutes” when talking about the few seconds after the game while the officials reviewed the shot. He went on to say a number great things about Cruz. He talked about how important Cruz is to the team and how well he was able to make the change from junior college.