LARAMIE – As memorable as his Senior Day performance was, University of Wyoming senior guard Jake Hendricks would have traded it all for one last win at Arena-Auditorium.
The Utah native tied his career-high with 27 points against Nevada on Tuesday night and tied former Cowboys Fennis Dembo and Alexander Aka Gorski for 10th on the school's all-time made 3-point list. As hard as Hendricks and the Cowboys fought, however, it was not enough to overcome the Wolf Pack in a 73-68 nail biting loss.
The Cowboys (7-22 overall, 2-15 Mountain West) trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but cut that down to a single point with just over 3 minutes to play. Trailing by three with 17.5 seconds remaining, redshirt sophomore guard Hunter Maldonado was unable to connect on an off-balance 3-point attempt that hit the front of the rim.
"It was a lot of fun. I wish we could have gotten the win. I would have rather had zero points and gotten the win. Winning is all that matters," said Hendricks, who now has 143 career 3-pointers. "I thought we played really hard. We just made a few mistakes at the end."
UW finishes its season at Arena-Auditorium 4-13, and failed to win a home game in the 2020 portion of its season. UW was held scoreless the final 3 minutes and 15 seconds of Tuesday night's game.
"What I expressed to our guys leading up to this game was, the big picture was to go out and compete and win the basketball game," Cowboys coach Allen Edwards said. "The small piece on the inside of it is wanting to play for (Hendricks and A.J. Banks) as two seniors ... that represented our program the right way."
After falling behind the Wolf Ppack 21-10 early in the first half, Hendricks scored nine consecutive points for UW. Nevada turned the ball over three times in the final four minutes of the half, and the Cowboys trailed by just four heading into the locker room despite shooting 32% from the field.
Hendricks picked up right where he left off when the final frame started, nailing 4 of 6 from deep to help get the Cowboys out of a double-digit hole midway through the second half. Maldonado hit a pair of 3-pointers to make it a four-point game and, following free throws by freshman guard Kwane Marble II and timely baskets by sophomore forward T.J. Taylor, trailed by just one point with 3 minutes, 15 seconds to play. During the stretch where UW closed the gap, Nevada was just 2 of 9 from the field with three turnovers.
"When we play defense like that, we're tough to score on," Hendricks said. "Sometimes we just make dumb mistakes that take away our defensive possession and give them something easy."
Down by three with just under 18 seconds to play and the ball following a timeout, the Cowboys attempted to get a quick 2-pointer to extend the game. The play was not there, however, and the ball wound up exchanging hands with several different Cowboys on the perimeter before Maldonado was forced to heave up a shot from deep.
"It was more something going downhill to either get fouled or get a two and get then get right back into press," Edwards said. "The way Hendricks was shooting, the only other thought was using him as a decoy ... we just got a little congested and weren't spaced enough.
"And actually, to be honest with you, (I) probably should have just called another timeout."
Nevada (19-10, 12-5), winner of six straight, was led by guards Jalen Harris and Jazz Johnson, who finished with 23 points and 13 points, respectively.
UW has one regular-season game remaining, a Saturday tilt at Fresno State, before beginning play at the Mountain West Tournament next Wednesday. Following last weekend's tight win at Air Force, it looked like the Cowboys may have turned a corner heading into the home stretch of the season. Instead, UW will go back to the drawing board.
"I've always said since day one, win or lose, you get back up and get ready to play your next game. And your next game is your most important game ... So even after this game, my message didn't change. I talked to them about the things that we did good (and) things that we didn't do well," Edwards said. "I don't think you can say anything different. And as the leader, these guys have never seen a crack in me. I've never cracked, I've never shown defeat ... The message doesn't change. You just continue fighting."