But the Cowboys received a big boost from the bench, rallying from 14 points behind in the second half to defeat Fresno State 55-51 in overtime on Saturday.
Washington had 14 points and 13 rebounds and became the first Wyoming player to collect a double-double in three consecutive games since Justin Williams in 2005-06. The 6-7 senior also had three blocks and two steals, plus two huge baskets in the closing minute of regulation. His injury was thought not to be serious enough to keep him out of the next game.
The Cowboys' Derrious Gilmore, who played with a cold and high fever, had 12 points and hit a free throw to send the game into overtime. Reserve Nathan Sobey scored a career-high 10 for Wyoming (18-7, 4-7 Mountain West).
Kevin Foster scored 14 points and Tyler Johnson added 13 to lead the Bulldogs (8-16, 2-9), who scored only two points in the final 3 minutes of regulation plus 5 minutes of overtime to lose their third in a row.
"You're looking at somebody who was on the cusp of giving up," Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. "I don't know if I've ever been around a team, perhaps undermanned as these guys have been, losing some of their comrades at different times. . but not once have they done anything but given their heart and soul to this program.
After the game, an angry Fresno State coach Rodney Terry waited outside the officials' locker room to complain about the foul disparity. The Bulldogs were whistled for 24 fouls; the Cowboys 10. Wyoming made 17 of 33 free throws; Fresno was 5 of 8 from the line.
"Thirty-three free throws," Terry said. "That's the difference. That's what we talked to the officials about. But I was talking to the officials during the game, to make calls during the game. I mean, you don't put those guys on the line the way we were touch-fouled at the end. You take it out of the hands of the players. That's the problem I had."
Fresno State took its first lead at 7-4 on a three-point play by Jerry Brown at the 16:30 mark of the first half. The margin reached 35-21 on a lay-in by Braeden Anderson early in the second half.
Fresno State still led 49-41 after Johnson's 15-foot jumper with 3:23 left in regulation, but Larry Nance Jr., playing with a bad sinus infection for Wyoming, hit a layup with two minutes left. After a Cowboys free throw, Nance fed Washington for a layup to make it 49-46. Fresno State lost the ball against Wyoming pressure and Washington scooped it up and dunked with 27 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Allen Huddleston's long inbounds pass was intercepted by Nance, and Gilmore was fouled. With 9.6 seconds left, he missed the first but made the second to tie it at 49. Gilmore then blocked a layup attempt by Huddleston with 2.4 seconds left. The ball went out of bounds to the Bulldogs, but Foster missed an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
"On that last possession, I just was really focused on not letting my man score a basket, not letting my team down," Gilmore said.
He opened the extra frame by hitting a floater, but Fresno State tied it on a layup by Brown. Washington, who missed eight free throws on the day, made one of two foul shots to give the Cowboys a 52-51 lead with 2:10 to play.
After each team turned it over, Washington blocked a layup by Marvelle Harris with 1:02 to play but hurt his left knee while crashing to the floor and had to be helped to the bench. Fresno State missed its last five shots and the Cowboys made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 12 seconds to hold on.
Shyatt said the difference was the fact that his guards were finally able to fight through screens and that Jack Bentz provided 11 quality minutes off the bench.
"When Bentz came in, I thought he really steadied the ship," Shyatt said.
Fresno State scored only two points in the final 8:22 of the contest, and was outscored 14-2 during the stretch. The Bulldogs shot 25 percent in the second half and 12.5 percent in overtime, and finished at 33 percent for the game.
Wyoming hit 60 percent in the second half and wound up at 45 percent for the contest. Fresno State won the rebound battle, 42-31.