LARAMIE -- Shaun Vandiver was making his Saturday night plans with 1:11 to go in regulation.

"I had a date with some whiskey," Wyoming's assistant coach joked. "I have no idea how that happened."

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Same, coach. Same.

Trailing by 11, the Cowboys mounted a miracle comeback for the ages, erasing that entire Colorado State lead -- and Vandiver's pity party -- with a Mason Walters lay in at the buzzer. Akuel Kot netted 11 points in the extra frame, including completing a four-point play that gave the home team a 76-74 advantage.

The Cowboys would never trail again.

Wyoming (11-9), a reengineered team that was picked to finish 10th in the conference's preseason poll, moves to 4-3 in Mountain West play after that 79-76 Houdini act over its most-hated rival that took place in front of more than 7,000 fans inside a joyous Arena-Auditorium.

The court was stormed. An NCAA Tournament résumé shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

This was the 113th birthday of this matchup, which dates back to 1911. Of those 241 meetings, Wyoming has now claimed 139 of those.

The 24th-ranked Rams (15-5) are now 3-4 in league action and losers of three of their last five. The Cowboys haven't knocked off a Top-25 team since 2018, escaping with a 104-103 double-overtime victory over No. 23 Nevada inside this very building.

How sweet it is.

"I'm not sure what to say. I'm speechless," head coach Jeff Linder said postgame. "I'm not sure what happened."

What happened is grit, toughness and a refusal to quit, the one thing openly asked of this ragtag roster filled with overlooked potential.

Admittedly, I was about five paragraphs deep, pecking away at the Cowboys obituary. Things were bleak. That's being generous. Linder saw some of you leaving the arena. He doesn't blame you one bit, either.

His team was in the midst of an eight-minute scoring drought after missing eight straight shots from the floor. Its Border War nemesis, on the other hand, was on a 20-5 run.

Chisel meet tombstone, right?


"Obviously, they missed probably one of the more, if not the most, special endings in the Border War rivalry," Linder added.

A Walters' layup bookended a frantic final 50 seconds. Sam Griffin, who finished with a game-high 24 points, netted seven straight, including a triple to make this a four-point game. Walters, the reigning NAIA Player of the Year, added a free throw before hauling in a perfectly-placed in-bounds pass with just 1.8 seconds remaining that was quickly kissed off the glass and through the hole.

That baseline heave even has a name: Fargo. Walters is from Jamestown, N.D., but Linder said with a grin, it's just easier to say.

"We worked on it in practice a couple of times," Walters said about the final play before being interrupted by Griffin.

"Give Mason the ball," he said with a laugh.

It was really that simple.

"Coach trusted me and my teammates trusted me," continued Walters, who scored 13 before fouling out at the 4:19 mark of overtime. "It's awesome."

These late-game theatrics are typically reserved for Kot. He has splashed two buzzer-beating jump shots already this season, sinking San Jose State and Fresno State.

"We all trust each other," he said, a wide grin creasing his face, when asked if he was peeved he didn't get the final shot.

He would get his chance in overtime. Lots of them. Kot finished with 18 points in the win.

Linder often praises this squad, saying they love to come to practice and play for one another. This roster is like the Island of Misfit Toys. Transfers from all levels of the game litter this roster. A journeyman from Miami, a big man from the great, frozen plains and a squirrely sharp-shooter from dusty west Texas, among others.

There's the few holdovers from last year's disaster, Brendan Wenzel, Caden Powell and Kenny Foster.

This win, according to Linder, is for them.

"They deserve that," he said. "They deserve to be in front of a crowd like that, because they're a really good group of guys. For Caden and Wenzel, you know, those guys that came back, I mean, for them to kind of see that and to feel that -- not to vindicate -- but just to say, 'hey, look, you know, we went through a lot of stuff last year, and (we) came back a year later and found a way to beat a really good team on our home floor.

"Hopefully, it continues to build us up because I do think we're getting a lot better."

Effort is what we asked from this group. That's what we are getting.

POKES: The Seven Best Games In The History Of The Wyoming-CSU Border War Rivalry (Naturally, they were all Wyoming wins)

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