While the University of Wyoming’s veteran cast looked like it was still in the process of shaking off the holiday rust, freshman Trey Washington III looked in top form.
And it comes just in time for the conference season to start.
Washington scored a career high 24 points — 15 coming in the first half — as the Cowboys beat Division II Western State Colorado University 69-52 on Wednesday afternoon at the Arena-Auditorium.
The game was the final tune-up for Wyoming (9-4) before Mountain West play begins Saturday at Nevada.
“It doesn’t really matter what division the other team is, we never really look at that,” UW sophomore guard Josh Adams said. “They were a good team and good athletes and it was a good opportunity to get guys like Trey, Matt (Sellers) and Aaron (Tyser) in the game.
“What he (Washington) did today really helps the team because it gives us a whole another look.”
The Cowboys, playing their first game since Dec. 20, actually trailed 14-8 seven minutes into the game against the Mountaineers (0-10). But a 12-0 run — highlighted by a 3-pointer and a three-point play by Washington — gave UW a 20-14 lead.
The Cowboys led 34-22 at the break and a 9-0 run early in the second half pushed the margin to 44-27. Another three from Washington gave Wyoming a 50-30 lead and Wyoming never led by less than 18 the rest of the game.
Washington, who scored 14 points in Wyoming’s season opener but totaled only 18 points since then, was 8 of 11 from the field. That included a career-high five 3-pointers. Washington also set a career high with five rebounds and added three assists.
“My mom always tells me to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” Washington said. “I give credit to my teammates, they found me when I was open and I just did the easy part and make shots.”
UW coach Larry Shyatt certainly liked what he saw from his freshman guard.
“The brightest spot was Trey Washington’s quick trigger,” Shyatt said. “This tape will be out throughout our league and I think people already know I’ve got no problem playing three point guards.
“If somebody throws a zone I have no problem playing Adams and (Riley) Grabau and Washington. They have enough fire power to help us.”
Washington was the only Cowboy to score in double figures.
Junior Larry Nance Jr., celebrating his 21st birthday Wednesday, scored nine points. Sophomore Josh Adams added eight points while playing against his brother, Jordan, for the second straight year. Jordan Adams led Western State with 16 points.
All 11 Cowboys who dressed scored, including junior Matt Sellers scoring four points in just his second game of the season coming back from a broken hand. Sophomore Aaron Tyser added his first career 3-pointer and junior Jack Bentz also scored a basket.
“There’s not a better feeling for us seeing what they go through in practice,” Nance said of seeing players like Tyser and Sellers score a basket. “Matt, Jack, Aaron making a three. Seeing those guys score just made a great birthday for me.”
The Cowboys are now 5-4 all-time in games played on New Year’s Day. Wednesday’s win was the first on New Year’s Day for the program since 1946. … The 53 points allowed by Wyoming are a season low. … Wyoming now leads the overall series with Western State 27-2, winning the last four by an average of 32 points. … UW spent the majority of the game playing a 2-3 zone. Shyatt said that was mainly because Western State was using between 28 and 30 seconds each possession.