The Wyoming Cowboys were unable to recover from their worst first half of the season and lost to the UNLV Rebels 56-48 in a quarterfinal game of the 2012 Conoco Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championships on Thursday.

Mike Moser scored points for UNLV as they pestered Wyoming throughout the first half, allowing hardly any uncontested shots. As a result, the Cowboys struggled from the field, making only three buckets in the first half on their way to just 11 points, which is the lowest in the history of the MW tournament.

After coming out of halftime down 28-11, the Cowboys did their best to keep pace with UNLV for the first five minutes of the half. When Oscar Bellfield converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play that put the Rebels up 42-20, it seemed as though the night could be over.

Instead, UW buckled down on defense and kept UNLV from making another basket for ten minutes. Luke Martinez finally found his shot and Leonard Washington found opportunities in the paint to help the Cowboys on a 19-4 that had Wyoming down just 46-39 with 6:32 to go. But the Pokes could not convert on the next three possessions and Washington picked up his fourth foul with just under five minutes to play.

As the minutes ticked down, Martinez hit another big trey that was followed shortly by a 3-point shot from Francisco Cruz with had the Cowboys down by six points with one minute left. UNLV hit 5-of-6 free throws to keep UW at a distance, eventually advancing to the semifinals with the 56-48.

Wyoming (20-11) was led by Leonard Washington with his fifth double-double of the season in 11 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Martinez also put up 11 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. The Cowboys shot 29 percent (17/58) from the floor, 28 percent (7/25) from three, and 58 percent (7/12) from the foul line.

Moser finished the night with 22 points and 14 boards for the Rebels (26-7)who shot 40 percent (20/50) from the field, 28 percent (4/14) from beyond the arc, and 63 percent (12/19) from the charity stripe. UNLV outrebounded Wyoming 56-48 and earned a 9-6 advantage in assists. Both teams turned the ball over 14 times.

The Cowboys now wait until Sunday to see if they get a postseason berth.

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