Cal State Bakersfield played one of its better second halves of the season Wednesday night against Wyoming.
But that came after the Roadrunners might have played their worst first half in several seasons.
Wyoming never trailed, but saw its 16-point lead shrink to four points three times down the stretch. The Cowboys pulled away in the final 43 seconds to post a 61-53 win before 1,208 at Rabobank Arena.
CSUB senior guard Stephon Carter moved within 14 points of breaking the program's career scoring record with a game-high 20 points, all in the second half.
CSUB (8-15) hit only 3-of-22 shots in the first half and had only one field goal in the first 12 minutes. An 11-2 run by Wyoming in the final five minutes of the first half gave the Cowboys a 27-13 halftime lead.
It was a different story in the second half. The Roadrunners shot 55 percent (17-of-31) to get within striking distance.
Wyoming (16-6) hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final 2:26 to hold on.
"In the first half we struggled," CSUB coach Rod Barnes said. "We couldn't get into the flow of the game."
Carter missed his only three shot attempts in the first half before hitting 10-of-15 in the second half.
"It was frustrating," Carter said. "We came out a little nervous, I think."
Five times in the first half, Barnes pleaded with his players to "run the offense. You're not running plays."
Barnes said it was essential the Roadrunners run their plays "all the way through" from start to finish.
"It wasn't that we were running the wrong play," Barnes said. "It's not going to work on your first 2-3 passes. It will probably take five passes. ...
"We'd do a couple of passes and then try to score. And that's not the way to beat that team because then you're right back on defense again."
CSUB senior forward Adam Young, who had 12 points and six rebounds, said it was Wyoming's deliberate style of play that kept the score low.
"They're a patient offensive team," he said. "No matter what we do, we're going to have limited offensive touches. We gave up too many offensive rebounds (12). That's a minute off the clock every time they have one of those."
Wyoming ranks eighth among Division I teams by allowing only 55.3 points per game.
CSUB's 13 first-half points matched the total in the Jan. 23 game at Santa Clara, a 66-36 loss.
Against Wyoming, Barnes made some halftime adjustments that kick-started the Roadrunner offense. It started with spreading the CSUB players out to create lanes to the basket. Carter was the main beneficiary.
"We ran our plays a little faster and we switched guys," Barnes said. "And we got Stephon the ball."
The Roadrunners have never beaten a Mountain West Conference program. Wyoming is 2-6 in the MWC this season.
"This was a disappointment because it was a game we thought we could win," Barnes said. "We're getting close. We've had two kinds of teams on our schedule.
"Really, really tough teams and teams where we are in our program. We want to take that next step. Tonight we showed we're closer, knowing we can compete with teams in the 60, 70, 80 RPI (ratings percentage index). That's where we want to take our program to."
Wyoming came into the game struggling, with four straight losses and five defeats in six games after a 13-0 start.
Larry Nance Jr., son of the 13-year NBA player and three-time All-Star, led the Cowboys with 17 points and 15 rebounds.