Jeff Elorriaga had made 10 3-pointers in a recent game and was shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc. If there was anyone Boise State wanted to have the ball at the end of a close game, it was the 6-2 junior.
He came through with a 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 18 points as short-handed Boise State defeated Wyoming 63-61 on Wednesday night, knocking the Cowboys from the unbeaten ranks in the Mountain West opener for both teams.
Freshman Josh Adams made two free throws with 9.1 seconds to give Wyoming (13-1) a 61-60 lead before Elorriaga canned the game-winner from the left corner, thanks to a screen from Ryan Watkins and a perfect pass from Igor Hadziomerovic.
"It was a great play and the shot went down," said Elorriaga, who was 6 of 10 from 3-point range. "It was a great screen by Ryan Watkins. He cracked the guy."
Elorriaga had committed the foul that put Adams at the line.
"It was a bad foul," Elorriaga said. "I'm glad I redeemed myself."
Anthony Drmic also scored 18 and Hadziomerovic added 11 points for the Broncos (13-2), who extended their winning streak to seven despite missing four players.
Boise State's top scorer Derrick Marks, who is averaging 16.3 points, and reserves Michael Thompson, Kenny Buckner and Darrious Hamilton were left at home because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.
"We found out yesterday," Elorriaga said of the suspensions. "They're still our teammates. We love them to death. We knew guys had to step up and they did."
Derrious Gilmore had 17 points, while Adams and Leonard Washington each had 12 and Riley Grabau 10 for Wyoming, one of four unbeaten Division I teams heading into the game. Duke, Michigan and Arizona remain without a loss.
There were eight ties and 10 lead changes Wednesday, three in the last minute.
"It was two really good teams that just kept responding, and we had to get up off the canvas to respond. We were knocked down," Broncos coach Leon Rice said. "We've got a toughness about us that I'm just in awe of and really proud of these guys."
Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said he was proud to see his team rally from seven points down with under 3 minutes to go and take the lead.
"It was a great shot at the right time," he said of the final basket. "It hurts. It's a dagger, but I don't think there was any lack of effort."
Gilmore vowed that the Cowboys will bounce back.
"It will just make us a better team," he said. "Adversity is something that we've faced all year. Tonight didn't fall the way that we wanted to, but we'll get back in the gym tomorrow, prepare, get out to Nevada and get focused on that game. But this will make us a better team, I can promise you that."
Added Grabau: "It's a learning process."
Washington's layup with 5:15 left gave Wyoming a 50-47 lead, but the Broncos scored 10 straight, including five from Hadziomerovic, to go up 57-50 with 2:47 to play.
Boise State then made three consecutive turnovers, one that led to a 3 from Washington and another resulting in a steal and dunk by Washington to tie it at 57. After Grabau hit two free throws with 45 seconds left, Elorriaga hit a 3 to put Boise State up 60-59 with 32 seconds left. Adams then put the Cowboys ahead moments before Elorriaga's game-winner.
Gilmore hit a pair of 20-foot jumpers and two foul shots as the Cowboys scored the first 10 points after intermission to go up 36-31. The margin reached 45-35 after two more free throws by Gilmore at 11:28. Boise State came back to tie it on a layup by Hadziomerovic, but Adams snapped the tie moments later with a long jumper to make it 47-45.