COLUMN: The results are maddening, the effort isn’t
LARAMIE -- Wyoming Could've easily rolled over and played dead tonight.
Hell, they could've simply not shown up at all. And who would've blamed them? They are coming off back-to-back blowout losses to Border War rival Colorado State and at home against the No. 7 team in the country, San Diego State.
Then, there was the unforgettable final 1:24 of Saturday night's game at the Arena-Auditorium where the Pokes blew an 8-point lead and let UNLV escape Laramie with an 78-69 overtime victory. Wyoming needed to hit one free throw to seal the deal.
Tuesday night in Reno, the Cowboys ultimately fell to 0-7 in Mountain West Conference play with a 68-67 loss to Nevada. The score was very much indicative of how hard the visitors played. The outcome is also all-too-familiar.
Hunter Maldonado once again shouldered the load in Reno, scoring a team-high 17 points and finishing with a double-double after dishing out 10 assists. Only this time, the sophomore didn't do it alone.
Pine Bluffs product, Hunter Thompson, has quietly put together a nice run despite the Cowboys dropping their fifth straight. Tuesday night, Thompson hit a big three with 51 seconds to go. It was his fourth of the game. It gave Wyoming a very brief two-point lead. Thompson finished with 16 points and four boards.
He's averaged 12 points per game in his last four outings.
Jake Hendricks and Kenny Foster both scored 10. Kwane Marble, who is coming off a career-best 19-point performance against the Rebels, netted eight. The freshman added nine rebounds and three steals.
It's still true -- this team has no idea how to win. Finishing has been a big issue with this group. When the clock ticks down, confidence typically follows.
That wasn't the case tonight.
With less than 30 seconds to go, Foster was stripped by Nisre Zouzoua. A monstrous dunk followed. That was the here-we-go-again moment. It could've been. It wasn't.
Fifteen seconds later, Maldonado drove the lane and lifted a left-handed runner up and in, giving the Pokes a 67-66 lead with 15.2 to go. Maldonado willed that one in. He fought through traffic and went up strong. He looked the part of the "killer" Wyoming needs.
The real killer happened with nine ticks remaining on the game clock. That's when Jalen Harris took what appeared to be three large steps -- or "Euro-step" as the kids call it -- in the paint and laid a left-handed layup in the hoop. The Wolf Pack survives.
For Wyoming, it's back to the drawing board -- again.
If there's one thing you can say about Allen Edwards' Cowboys, it's this -- they don't give up. This team fights. They have absolutely nothing to lose. There's no pressure. That comes with zero expectations.
Keep fighting. That's all anyone can ask for at this point, right?
The wins aren't coming. They probably won't again anytime soon. But that won't be for lack of trying. This team can be maddening -- like, extremely maddening. No one knows that better than you.
But if you can take pride in one thing in what has become a lost season, it's the fact that those guys with your state plastered across their chest are not lambs off to the slaughter.
They could've been. They could've gotten embarrassed. ESPN did give Nevada a 97 percent chance in this one. No one cares about moral victories. Not you. Not these guys.
They are not giving up.
That doesn't show up on the stat sheet, unfortunately.