Dec 23, 2012 - The Associated PressThe shots were not falling for the University of Wyoming men's basketball team in the first half.
But they were in the second half, especially for senior forward Leonard Washington.
UW outscored the University of California-Santa Barbara 32-17 in the second half. Washington posted his fifth double-double of the season and 11th of his career with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and scored the team's first eight points in the second half as the Cowboys won 56-40 in front of 5,372 on Friday at the Arena-Auditorium.
At 12-0 the Cowboys matched their best start in school history with the 1950-51 squad. UW is also only one of eight remaining unbeaten teams in all of men's Division I basketball. They also swept the home-and-home series with the Gauchos (4-7), and held them to 40 points in both games. But unlike UW's 68-40 win at Santa Barbara on Nov. 28, it looked for a while UW would struggle to win this game.
UW shot 36 percent from the field, made only 1 of 12 3-pointers and was 5 of 11 from the free-throw line in the first half -- all season-lows.
The Cowboys also got into first-half foul trouble as Washington, senior point guard Derrious Gilmore and sophomore guard Riley Grabau all picked up two fouls. Gilmore's second foul came with 8 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half and UW leading 18-10.
Santa Barbara went on a 13-6 run the rest of the half to cut UW's lead to 24-23 at halftime. It was the second-lowest point total in the first half for the Cowboys this season.
The lowest was 23 points at Northern Colorado
Santa Barbara redshirt freshman forward Taran Brown of Gillette, who had a lot of friends and family in the stands cheering for him, hit a shot early in the second half to give the Gauchos their first and only lead at 25-24.
Then Washington took over.
His first four points were on free throws after being fouled in the paint. The other two were baskets in the paint.
With 10 minutes, 56 second left in the game UW led 39-31 and Washington scored 10 of the team's 15 points. He also drew a charge and blocked a shot by Brown.
"Fortunately, the boss (Washington) took over the game there for a little bit," UW coach Larry Shyatt said.
Washington said the second-half spark was based on defense. The Cowboys held the Gauchos to six baskets and 25 percent shooting from the field and no 3-pointers in eight attempts. Santa Barbara was 1 of 13 from 3-point range on the game. They made 46 in their last four games.
"We wanted to come out aggressively on defense and I guess it sparked our offense a little bit," Washington said. "I guess I was just feeling it at the start of the second half, but I credit our defense."
After Washington's initial scoring outburst, along with five points from sophomore forward Larry Nance, Jr., during that time frame, UW's outside shooting heated up. Gilmore knocked down a trey and Martinez hit two in a row. Martinez finished with 14 points.
The Cowboys led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
"I don't think we came out in the second half ready to go," said Brown, who finished with four points on 2 of 9 shooting. "I think we got tired, that elevation kicked our butt. That's not excuse, but that's one of the factors."
Sophomore center Alan Williams led Santa Barbara with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
UW's players get a few days off before returning to Laramie and getting ready for the next game at SMU on Jan. 2.
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