LARAMIE, Wyo . — The first 34 minutes Friday night couldn’t have gone any better if Southern coach Roman Banks had scripted them.
The Jaguars led the bigger, deeper Wyoming Cowboys for most of the final game of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase. The only thing Banks couldn’t script was the finish.
Wyoming erased a seven-point deficit with 6:17 to go by posting a 15-3 run, lifting the Cowboys to a 67-60 victory.
Southern finished its weeklong road trip, which started with games at Iowa State and Nebraska before coming to Laramie, at 1-4. But the Jaguars head home with plenty of optimism following what Banks called his team’s best performance of the season.
“We played tonight,” he said. “We had a chance to win the ballgame. It went as good as I could have hoped. ... We had Brandon (Moore) playing, and it gave us some confidence. When he plays a couple games and we learn how to play with him in the lineup, I think we can be pretty good.”
Moore, a 6-foot-10 senior, played his first game of the season after missing the first four with an injury. Moore finished with five points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes, but his presence took pressure off the other players.
And they responded. Malcolm Miller led Southern with 14 points, and Jameel Grace added 11 and Derick Beltran 10. Madut Bol hit all three of his 3-point attempts to score nine points.
Southern made six of its first nine 3-point attempts in the second half, part of a 15-2 run that gave Southern a 46-38 edge with 10:29 to play. The Jaguars led 55-48 with 6:17 to go after a hoop by Moore.
Wyoming got a 3-pointer from Riley Grabau, a dunk from Larry Nance Jr. (the son of former NBA standout Larry Nance) and a 3-pointer from Luke Martinez over the next two minutes to tie the game at 56.
Grace gave Southern its last lead at 58-56 with a basket with 3:40 to go. But the Cowboys outscored the Jaguars 11-2 down the stretch to pull out the win.
“(Wyoming) got the loose balls and hit some big shots down the stretch,” Banks said. “We made some bad plays and made some bad fouls.”
Wyoming senior forward Leonard Washington led Wyoming with 17 points and eight rebounds. Nance finished with a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Martinez scored 11.
Southern won the rebounding battle 27-26 and shot 46.8 percent (22 of 47).
“We had our chances to win the game. That’s all we wanted,” Banks said. “If this is the sign to come, then we’ve got a chance.”