Mar 13, 2013 - The Associated PressLAS VEGAS -- Injured, ill and frustrated before, Larry Nance Jr. and Leonard Washington felt better Tuesday.
So did the rest of the University of Wyoming men's basketball team.
Nance posted team highs with 19 points and eight rebounds, and Washington added 18 points, five boards, two assists and two steals and UW used a big second half run to hold off Nevada 85-81 in the play-in game at the Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
UW (19-12) snapped a five-game losing streak and beat Nevada (12-19) for the third time this season. The Cowboys play No. 15 and top seed New Mexico (26-5) at 7:30 p.m. today in the quarterfinals.
Nance lost 18 pounds in recent weeks because of a sinus infection, and also missed a game in early February with a wrist injury.
Washington has battled ankle and back injuries for nearly a month. But those two were the catalysts for the Cowboys on Tuesday. Nance scored 12 points in the second half as the Cowboys started the second half on a 22-6 run over the first 6 minutes, 30 seconds.
Washington scored 16 second-half points, but even though he made two baskets -- both in the paint -- within the first two minutes of the half, he sat out most of the run after picking up his third foul.
He still had the play of the game down the stretch.
Nance fouled out with 2:11 to play, and Nevada cut a 12-point UW lead in the second half to two at 74-72 with less than 90 seconds to play. Nevada had the ball, but Washington stole a pass from Nevada senior guard Deonte Burton, went coast-to-coast for the layup and was fouled.
The 3-point play extended the UW lead to five with 1:14 to play.
"I read Burton's eyes. He was getting ready to pass the ball to my man," Washington said. "I jumped in the passing lane."
Added Burton: "I think he baited me to throwing that pass. He was sagging off at first and shot in as I threw it. I didn't think he would be quick enough to get there, but he was."
Washington's point total was the most since he sprained his left ankle on Feb. 16 against Fresno State. He leads UW in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocked shots, but had just three points and three rebounds in his past two games. He also missed two games after he sprained the ankle.
"You can't take our leading scorer and leading rebounder out and expect us to be right at the same level we were," said Nance, whose 19 points were the most he has scored against a Mountain West opponent.
"It's really nice to have him back and have me healthy. I think you saw what we can do."
Senior point guard Derrious Gilmore added 17 points and had a career-high eight assists, and seven of true freshman guard Josh Adam's points came at the free-throw line. Burton had a game-high 27 points and senior guard Malik Story added 20, and Nevada kept making 3-pointers and baskets late. It cut UW's lead to 84-81 with 7.4 seconds to play.
A free throw by Gilmore secured the victory.
UW was outrebounded 31-30, but held a 17-10 edge in the second half including an 8-5 advantage in offensive rebounds.
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