|Posted November 6, 2007|
Pack threatens, but falls short in exhibition loss to Wyoming
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The ThunderWolves showed they could play with
the big boys Tuesday night, mounting several comeback attempts but
falling short as the Pack lost its exhibition opener with Division
I foe Wyoming, 73-66.
Early on, the ThunderWolves nearly overcame a hiccup, falling behind the Cowboys 13-2 before getting on track, thanks to the discovery of their long range game. Two consecutive threes by Rome Smith and Julien Franklin sparked an 8-0 run, allowing the Pack to stay within striking distance for most of the game. The closest the Pack were able to get was within three right before the half when Smith again powered the Pack with a three, one of his four threes on the night, as the Pack trailed only 28-25 with 1:07 remaining in the half.
"Rome was able to make his open shots and his toughly contested shots," Pack coach Patrick Eberhart said. "He played solid and within himself, and did all the things we talked about doing."
The ThunderWolves impressive first half was largely due to a bend but don't break defense that was able to keep the Cowboys' big two, Brad Jones and Brandon Ewing, in check for most of the first half. Jones and Ewing, who averaged 19.9 and 18.1 points per game, respectively, last season, only combined for only 12 points in the first half, with only four points of which coming off field goals.
"They are two of the best guards around," Eberhart said. "All we wanted to do was compete against them, and we were throwing four or five different guys at them and they all did a very good job guarding them."
In the second half, though, the Cowboys' scoring machine began to find its stride. Threatened by the Pack's hot beginning, closing the Cowboy advantage to two, 36-34, with 16:30 remaining in the half, Wyoming responded with a 14-5 run, fueled largely by Jones and Ewing, who each contributed five points during the advance. The duo combined for 27 of the Cowboys' 43 second half points, keeping any of the Pack's comeback hopes at bay.
From there, the ThunderWolves had threatened to close the 10-plus point advantage. The ThunderWolves, despite shooting 39 percent from the field in the second half, and big upgrade from its 21 percent output in the first half, the Cowboys showed relative accuracy from the field, sinking 52 percent of their shots in the second half, enough to keep the Pack from mounting a threat.
The closest the ThunderWolves were able to get was within six with 1:38 remaining, aided by a 9-1run, but foul trouble reared its ugly head down the stretch. The Pack committed four fouls in the final 90 seconds, part of 23 fouls committed in the second half alone, yielding six charity points by the Cowboys and giving Wyoming enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.
Eberhart said that, despite the loss, he was impressed in the effort the Pack but forth and showed that they are way ahead of schedule if they could stay within striking distance of a team the caliber of Wyoming.
"With 68 fouls called, it was a tightly officiated game, but we were able to overcome that come back to keep it close," Eberhart said. "I'm very happy with where we are at this point and I thought it was great that we were able to make this a seven-point game. We competed for 40 minutes and we played hard."
The ThunderWolves were led offensively by Ty McTyer, who scored 17, 15 of which coming in the second half, and Smith, who registered 14 points in his first action with the ThunderWolves.
The Pack will rest up for ten days, diving in to the regular season schedule Nov. 16 at the Al Kaly Shrine Classic in Pueblo, pitting the Pack against Newman University in the first matchup