GEORGE TOWN, GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS -- Senior forward Gary Clark scored his team's first 13 points and Cincinnati relied on stingy defense for the third straight night en route to a resounding 78-53 triumph over Wyoming on Wednesday night to capture the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic championship.
It marked the third straight 20-plus point victory in the tournament for No. 12 ranked Cincinnati which improved its record to 6-0.
“This is a good start to the season,” said Mick Cronin, who is in his 12th year as head coach at Cincinnati. “ You practice winning three in row, but down here you have to focus especially with fun in sun.”
The Bearcats opened the tournament with a 75-48 romp past Buffalo in the first round Monday and then trimmed Richmond, 78-53, in the semifinal round Tuesday.
“They all wished we would have had a few more days in the ocean," Cronin added. "I can’t imagine to have a better place to play. We’ll be back in four years if invited.”
Clark finished with 17 points, while senior forward Kyle Washington scored 16 points with 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the eighth of his career.
Clark was named the outstanding player in the tournament after averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the three games.
“Gary Clark is probably an all-America,” said Cronin.
Cincinnati junior swingman Jacob Evans III also was named to the 10-member all-tournament.
After starting with a 9-0 lead against Richmond on Tuesday, the Bearcats took an 11-0 lead against Wyoming, thanks to a stifling defense and Clark's offense.
Clark scored at will against Wyoming's interior defense. He scored the Bearcats' first 13 points before Jarron Cumberland made a jump shot to stop his teammate's run.
Clark played only nine minutes in the first half because he picked up two fouls, but he made six of his eight field goal attempts.
The Cowboys were shut out until Louis Adams dropped in two free throws with 13:44 remaining in the first half and didn't record a basket in the paint. Adams made a jump shot with 10:34 left. The Bearcats led by as many as 21 points with 2:54 left in the half, before enjoying a 37-20 cushion at halftime.
Cincinnati increased its lead to 47-24 with 15:13 to go. At that point, the Cowboys had only six field goals in 31 attempts for 19.4 percent. Cincinnati shot 50 percent from the floor (31-62), while holding Wyoming to just 31.3 percent from the floor, making 15 of 48 shots.
The Bearcats, who were the preseason choice to win the American Athletic Conference title, scored 21 points off Wyoming turnovers.
Wyoming, which suffered its first loss of the season after four wins, was led by senior forward Hayden Dalton, who had 15 points. Senior forward Alan Herndon, who joined Dalton on the all-tournament team, added 12 points.
“First of all give Cincinnati and coach Cronin credit with the victory and championship,” Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said. “They came out more assertive and I thought that we played more on our heels and were passive. Momentum took its place early and from that point we were fighting trying to get back in the game.”
“The Tournament was a tremendous experience for us,” Edwards said. “Going forward I told the guys how do we learn from this experience? This was an opportunity that we missed out on. But I’m confident in our program with what we are doing. If we are going to achieve our goals we are going to play a team like this again.”