LARAMIE, Wyo. – Heath Schroyer had a simple explanation for his team's ninth Mountain West Conference loss.
"The first half we executed well offensively," the first-year head coach said. "The second half we didn't execute, and that's why we lost."
Billy White and Lorrenzo Wade combined for 27 second-half points to lead San Diego State to a 79-68 victory over Wyoming Tuesday night.
The Pokes never trailed in the first half, but White's put-back with 18:21 remaining in the second period gave the Aztecs their first lead of the game, 39-37. His bucket was part of an 11-4 run that put SDSU ahead 45-41 with 15:40 to play.
"Billy White is a guy who is as good at rebounding out of his area as any guy in our league," Schroyer said, "and I don't think there is any doubt he is the freshman of the year in our conference."
White and Wade combined for 22 of the Aztecs' first 23 second-half points, extending SDSU's lead to 55-47 with 9:22 remaining. The Pokes pulled within four points with less than eight minutes remaining, but White scored five points in the final two minutes, including a conventional three-point play on a dunk, to help seal the victory.
"Close to the basket I'm very comfortable," White said. "Coach told me to get the ball and try to attack the basket hard, so that's what I was thinking."
The 6-foot-8 freshman finished with 19 points, including 17 in the second half, and 12 rebounds.
"My teammates, especially Lorrenzo Wade, told me that I was the most athletic person on the floor," White said. "I'm just thinking what he told me and that I got to get every rebound. If I've got to get every rebound for my team to win, I'll do that."
White helped the Aztecs to a 35-25 rebounding edge over the Cowboys, including 17-6 on the offensive glass. The Pokes shot 50 percent from the field in the game, but they gave up 20 second-chance points and 42 points in the paint.
"They're real long," said UW guard Brandon Ewing, who finished with 12 points and five assists. "We boxed out well, but they're just so athletic that it's kind of tough to hold the block out."
Wade finished with 14 points and three assists. Richie Williams added 13, Ryan Amoroso scored 12 and D.J. Gay chipped in 11 points for the Aztecs.
Wyoming was led by Tyson Johnson, who scored a career-high 18 points and finished the game 8-of-11 from the field. Ryan Dermody added 14 points for the Cowboys, but he didn't score in the second half.
Johnson scored nine points during a 10-minute stretch in the second half to help the Cowboys keep things close, but the big junior got off just one shot attempt in the final eight minutes of the game.
"We just didn't execute in the second half like we did in the first half," Ewing said. "They couldn't guard our post players in the first half, and we should have just kept going to them because they were just letting them score."
"When you have a guy that's 8-for-11, you obviously would have liked to have went to him a little bit more," he said. "But we just went away from that."
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 10-15 overall and 3-9 in the Mountain West Conference.
The Aztecs, meanwhile, improved to 17-9 overall and 7-5 in league play.
They had to weather an early offensive storm from the Pokes to do it.
Dermody nailed three 3-pointers in a two-and-a-half-minute-stretch to give Wyoming an early 11-6 lead. His fourth bucket from long range midway through the period gave the Cowboys an 18-13 advantage. San Diego State came back to tie the score on four separate occasions, but the Pokes scored six of the final nine points of the first half to take a 35-32 lead into the break.
They led for less than two minutes the rest of the way, however.
"It is hard for any team to come here and win, but we were able to do it tonight for a big team win," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. "You have to play well, get lucky, play well down the stretch, and we did all of the above tonight."
Wyoming will be back in action on Saturday to take on UNLV. The game is set to tip off at 2:30 p.m. in the Arena Auditorium.
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