LARAMIE, Wyo. – Everything that makes up a great college basketball rivalry was present for Wyoming’s (12-8, 3-3) 75-70 win over CSU (14-5, 4-3) in the hoops version of the Border War Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, Wyo.
The contest was intense and physical, the home crowd was loud and the outcome of the game was close.
“We were not as assertive, aggressive or as tough as you need to be to play against a really good team in adverse conditions,” said CSU Head Coach Dale Layer. “You have to give credit to them.”
Tempers on both sides reached boiling point midway through the second half when senior point guard Cory Lewis was called for a reach-in foul for trying to strip the ball from U of W junior forward Joseph Taylor.
Lewis and Taylor then exchanged words and it appeared as if a fight was sure to break out.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the two players were separated.
Officials then stopped the game to review the altercation via a courtside monitor and after approximately ten minutes issued double technical fouls on both Lewis and Taylor.
“I lost my temper which I shouldn’t have did,” Lewis said. “But it happens and you just have to move on.”
Coach Layer’s response to the incident: “I prefer not to comment on that.”
The Rams led 45-42 before the altercation, but two three-pointers by Wyoming native forward Eric Platt in within the next minute gave the Cowboys a 50-47 lead.
Junior forward Jason Smith, who finished the game with a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, tied the game two minutes later at 50 points apiece.
But too many offensive rebounds by the Cowboys down the stretch proved to be the difference in the game where both teams shot below 42 percent.
CSU successfully slowed down Wyoming junior guard Brandon Ewing, limiting the conference’s top scorer to 17 points on 4 of 14 from the field.
However, it was the Cowboys other talented guard that made the game’s biggest impact, sophomore Brad Jones.
Jones scored a game-high 25 points, gathered five rebounds and dished out four assists.
“Brad Jones was by far the best guard out there,” Layer said. “He dictated the game.”
Junior center Stuart Creason recorded a career-high seven blocks, good for third-best in school history despite the fact the Cowboys outscored the Rams in the paint, 38-36.
The Rams have the weekend off and are set to return to the court when they host the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Jan. 30.
Men’s basketball beat writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.