Mar 20, 2013 - The Associated PressHis new nickname is "Big Shot."
That's because University of Wyoming junior guard Nathan Sobey hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Cowboys a 67-66 victory over Lehigh in a first-round College Basketball Invitational game Tuesday night in front of 1,528 fans at the Arena-Auditorium.
That shot improved UW to 20-13, and is the first time the team has had back-to-back 20-win seasons in a decade. It also ensured that the Cowboys will host a CBI quarterfinals game against either North Dakota State or Western Michigan on Monday. North Dakota State plays at Western Michigan tonight.
But prior to Sobey's shot, it looked like UW's postseason was going to end quickly.
The Cowboys trailed by seven points with just under three minutes to play. But they tied the game for a third time with 21 seconds to play on a layup by senior point guard Derrious Gilmore, which was set up by a steal by true freshman guard Josh Adams after Lehigh junior guard Mackey McKnight lost control of the ball.
Lehigh (21-10) answered with a layup by senior forward Gabe Knutson, who led the Mountain Hawks with 23 points, with six seconds to play.
With no timeouts left, senior forward Larry Nance Jr. inbounded the ball to Adams, who pushed the ball up the floor quickly and found Sobey open in the left corner by the UW bench.
"I was just open," Sobey said. "Josh drove to the lane and I was lucky it went in. I didn't even see it go in. When the ball went up, I was on the ground, and then people just jumped on me after the ball went in."
Added Lehigh coach Brett Reed: "Coming back on defense, we had one player in particular that gambled in the backcourt a bit. Credit Wyoming for making a hard push and getting into triple penetration, which opened up their guy on the outside. We kind of half helped in and were there to help with the recovery to challenge it, but it was too late."
The fact the game was this close was odd because UW shot 54.3 percent from the field, made 11 3-pointers, shot 57.9 percent from the arc and out-rebounded Lehigh 29-23.
However, the Cowboys found themselves in foul trouble, especially in the first half, and five players finished with three or more fouls. Most of the foul trouble was with UW's big men such as sophomores Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. That forced true freshman forward Austin Haldorson to play some at center. Even Sobey at 6-foot-4, played some inside.
And, senior forward Leonard Washington played only the first two minutes of the game as his back injury flared up in pregame warm-ups. Washington is UW's leader in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots.
Lehigh outscored UW 32-22 in the paint, and made 15 shots in or around the key. It also outscored UW 12-6 at the free-throw line.
"This was a microcosm of our season -- injury, foul trouble, guys playing different positions, and tonight the shot went down for us," UW coach Larry Shyatt said.
Gilmore scored a game-high 25 points as he was 9 of 18 from the field and 6 of 11 from 3-point range. It was the third time this season he has made six 3s in a game. He made his first six shots, which included five 3-pointers. But prior to his game-tying layup late in the game, Gilmore missed a short shot about 15 seconds earlier that would have tied it.
Nance added 20 points and a team-best seven rebounds. In the last four games, Gilmore and Nance have combined for 52 percent of the team's points.
Shyatt said he will give the team a couple of days off while he goes recruiting while the Cowboys wait to see who their quarterfinals opponent will be. If it is North Dakota State, UW will be familiar with it because the Cowboys beat the Bison 78-75 in Laramie in last year's first round of the CBI.
"Whenever you get a chance to play in any postseason tournament, and for myself as a senior, I am thankful for this opportunity," Gilmore said.
"We are looking forward to going out every night and just try to finish this out on a good note."
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