Mark Nickens scored 29 points and Gordon Austin 18 tonight, but they weren't enough as Wyoming defeated American, 71-63, in the consolation game of the Volunteer Classic.

The Eagles (3-4) used an aggressive press defense in an attempt to offset Wyoming's height advantage, forced 20 turnovers and held a 34-33 halftime lead, but they appeared to tire in the second half.

Coach Gary Williams said the last-second defeat by Tennessee in the tourney's opening round Friday night had played a part in the loss to Wyoming.

"The loss last night did affect us," he said. "We were so intense last night and when we didn't win it, it took a lot out of us. It's an emotional thing. We weren't mentally ready as we could have been."

The Eagles started slowly and did not score in the first 4 1/2 minutes as Wyoming took an 8-0 lead.

But American came back to go ahead on Nickens' 18-foot jump shot just before the buzzer and were up, 34-33, at halftime.

Nickens, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, led all scorers. Austin's 18 points were his most as an Eagle.

The Cowboys went back ahead early in the second half, when forward Bill Garnett scored 18 of his 24 points. He got 10 consecutive points to put Wyoming ahead, 51-46, with less than nine minutes left.

Guard Mike Jackson had 20 points for the Cowboys, six off dunk shots on fast breaks.

The Cowboys out rebounded American, 37-23, with 7-foot center Chris Engler getting 13. Engler also scored 13 points.

"We could have won this tournament if a few things would have gone our way," said Austin. "We've got the Senior Bowl tournament coming up and we need to get a win there."