Lean on Me: Bench Plays Big in Tough Victory

In a performance that was neither dominant nor pretty, Wyoming turned to its bench for some much-needed support...

Looks aren't everything.

Wyoming's win over Chadron State wasn't picture perfect, but the end result was exactly what Brandon Ewing wanted.

"Whether the win is ugly or whether it looks good, we still won," said Ewing, who finished with 17 points and five assists.

In the final tune-up before beginning conference play, the Pokes made just enough plays down the stretch to defeat Chadron State, 76-69.

Forward Ryan Dermody, who finished with 16 points and four blocks, said the close game would benefit the team as the year progressed.

"Anytime there's a tight game going down the stretch where we've got to execute and make plays, that's just going to help prepare us for more tight games. I'm sure we'll see a lot of good games in conference," Dermody said. "I think that helps prepare us."

The Cowboys used a 16-0 run early in the first half to jump out to a 22-6 lead, but by halftime the Eagles had cut the deficit to just five, 41-36.

Turnovers stung Wyoming yet again, with the Cowboys giving the ball up 21 times leading to 25 Chadron State points. This season Wyoming is averaging 19 turnovers a game.

The Pokes didn't have the services of Brad Jones, their senior guard averaging nearly 14 points a game. Jones missed the contest due to a death in his family.

But his absence opened the door for players like Travis Bunker and Byron Geis, who hadn't seen much game action before Monday.

"I thought we had some really key contributions from a lot of guys that haven't really played a lot this year," said head coach Heath Schroyer.

Geis and Bunker played a combined 46 minutes, with Bunker putting up nine points and five assists while Geis tallied seven rebounds and two steals.

The Pokes begin Mountain West Conference play on Jan. 5 when the New Mexico Lobos come to Laramie, and Schroyer knows his team must prepare for a well-rounded attack.

"They're good. They're deep, they're talented and we'll have our work cut out for us," he said.

Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. in Laramie.

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