Noah Reynolds Becoming Wyoming’s ‘Killer’
LARAMIE -- Wyoming isn't just missing nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a night with Graham Ike sitting on the bench in street clothes.
The big man brings an intimidation factor, a snarl. Need a bucket? Need a stop? Need a victory? Opposing players -- and coaches -- think twice when No. 33 is roaming the paint.
For lack of a better term, Ike is this team's "killer."
This Cowboys' lineup, despite being ravaged by illness and injury, is still loaded with veteran talent. But is there a go-to guy when the game is on the line? A player who wills a win?
"I see a lot of that in Noah (Reynolds)," UW teammate Xavier DuSell said. "He's been a huge spark for us this year. It has been phenomenal, you know, seeing him blossom as a player."
With the game tied 57-57 and 18 ticks remaining on the game clock last Saturday afternoon in Laramie, Reynolds methodically dribbled the ball near midcourt. He looked to his right where head coach Jeff Linder held up five fingers. We all soon found out what that meant.
The sophomore from Peoria, Illinois, with five seconds to go, flew down the lane and attempted the left-handed lay-in. Jalen Lake went for the block. Nearby officials say he got more than just ball.
With 2.6 second left, the southpaw effortlessly sank the front end free throw. The next shot didn't fall. That wasn't the worst scenario. Colorado State was forced to call a timeout, which meant just 2.2 seconds to go 94 feet.
It didn't happen.
The Cowboys knocked off their Border War rivals 58-57, snapping an eight-game losing skid and putting a six-game conference skid in the rear-view window.
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Why did Linder go with Reynolds in that spot?
"Well, the fact that he's our leading scorer and he's a guy that's not scared of the moment," Wyoming's third-year head coach said postgame. "That's what he's done. He deserved to have the ball in his hands. Thankfully, he found a way to create some contact, draw the foul, and then took some pressure off himself by making the first one."
For Reynolds, it was redemption.
In a late November meeting with Santa Clara in Salt Lake City, Linder once again put the game in Reynolds' hands. With 11 seconds remaining in overtime and the Cowboys trailing 87-85, he looked for a teammate that wasn't there. The ball bounced out of bounds. That late turnover handed the Broncos the ball and eventually the victory.
"I knew once I was in that position again where I had control to take over the game and to secure the win that I'd made sure that I got that done," he said. "So, I felt really comfortable the second time around. Coach knows I want those situations. I want the ball in my hands. He just said go make a play and he put me in a good position. He took a defender out of the way so I had a double-gap drop to my left hand, then I just powered through the finish and drew a foul."
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard is averaging 15.1 points per game. Reynolds, who netted a game-high 17 in the win over the Rams, reached double figures for the 11th time this season. He's scored more than 20 six times, including a 30-point effort against Texas A&M-Commerce.
Hunter Maldonado, who made his return to the floor after missing last Tuesday's tilt at Air Force with a rib injury, is typically a guy who would get the ball in moments like that. Asked what it meant to see one of the youngsters on this roster earn that responsibility, a grin creased the face of the super senior.
"Yeah, he's like a little brother to me," he said of Reynolds. "So, I mean, I really appreciate everything he's done and the work he puts in. To be able to see him in that situation -- and I completely trust him -- (it was great) to see him go out there and get us that win."
Reynolds and the Cowboys will take on UNLV tonight inside the Thomas & Mack Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
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