(Laramie, WY) – The Wyoming Cowboy defense shined in an 85-47 season opening win over Detroit Mercy in the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday evening. Wyoming held the Titans to 31 percent from the field for the lowest total in the Jeff Linder of Cowboy basketball.
Wyoming shot 55 percent from the field in the contest. It was the best percentage in an opener since shooting 62 percent against Northern Colorado in the 2014-15 season opener. Wyoming dominated the paint 44-16 for the night. Wyoming also added 13 points off turnovers and recorded 15 second chance points.
“I thought our guys really locked into the scouting report, and Coach (Ken) DeWeese did a really good job with the scout, particularly not knowing exactly what they (Detroit Mercy) were going to do,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We had no film or any intel on their two scrimmages that they had against other Division I opponents. We had to base everything off what they did last year.”
Wyoming was led by guard Hunter Maldonado with 19 points. He also added six rebounds and nine assists. Forward Graham Ike added 22 points to lead all scorers. He recorded his second 20-plus game of his career and the second in his last three games after 32 against SJSU in the MW tournament. Forward Jeremiah Oden added 14 points going 6-of-7 from the field. Guard Drake Jeffries added 12 points with a team-high four three-pointers.
“For us to be a really good offensive team and to put pressure on the opponent, we have to be able to get the ball in the paint,” Linder said. “When you have a player like Graham (Ike), he is so good down there and he commands so much attention. Then you add Maldo (Hunter Maldonado) to the mix and his ability to get to those dribble downs like he did in the first half and he is such a good passer — he had 19 points, nine assists and zero turnovers. Those two guys really stepped things up tonight, and if you can be a team that can play inside out like that combined with the way we can shoot it, it makes us really hard to guard.”
Wyoming held a 37-32 advantage on the glass for the night. Wyoming also recorded 16 assists in the game and recorded six turnovers, the second fewest under head coach Jeff Linder.
The Pokes got off to a 6-0 lead highlighted by a nifty pass from Maldonado and a slam from Oden. Wyoming would add to the lead for 15-3 advantage, as Maldonado and Oden had 13 of the team’s points six minutes into the contest.
Jeffries would add a pair of triples to five Wyoming a 25-8 lead with 11:05 left in the first frame. It was the first threes of the game for the Pokes. Ike could add a pair of buckets to make it a 29-11 game halfway through the frame.
The Titans would go on a 7-0 run for a 29-18 lead with 6:34 remaining in the half. The Pokes went scoreless for nearly five minutes, until Jeffries made his third three-pointer of the game for a 32-18 Wyoming lead with 3:58 left in the half.
The Pokes would add two more triples one from Jeffires and one from guard Xavier DuSell DuSell and a layup from Maldonado to cap an 11-0 run for a 40-18 lead in the closing minutes of the half. Wyoming would take a 40-21 lead into the break.
Wyoming used a 6-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half to take a 48-23 advantage. Another slam from Oden, freebies by Maldonado and a bucket from Ike highlighted the run.
Guard Brendan Wenzel recorded his first career points with a three-pointer to give Wyoming a 55-28 lead with 13:26 remaining in the game. It was part of a stretch of the Pokes going 5-of-6 from the field.
Later in the second frame, Wyoming would go on a 9-0 run to build a 71-35 lead with 6:14 left in the game. Maldonado did most of the heavy lifting during the stretch with seven points for the Cowboys.
Wyoming would cruise from there to take the 85-47 victory.
UW held the nation’s second leading scorer last season Antoine Davis to 16 points thanks to solid defense by DuSell. Madut Akec led the Titans with 13 rebounds and 14 points for the double-double.
“We knew (Antoine) Davis was the focus for them. I thought our effort collectively as a team on Davis and then what X (Xavier DuSell) did defensively was big for us,” Linder said. “You look at the stat sheet and you see that he (DuSell) had only three points and you might not think he had a good game. But his effort defensively on one of the best guards in the country — the second leading scorer in the country last year — to hold him to 16 points on 18 shots, I’m proud of the team effort it took to do that and I’m really proud of X and the energy he had to exert to guard him.”
The Cowboys return to action on Sunday hosting Arkansas- Pine Bluff at 2 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium in a contest on the Mountain West Network.
Cowgirls knock off CSU Pueblo
The Wyoming Cowgirls officially opened the 2021-22 season with a hard-fought 67-53 victory Tuesday morning over CSU Pueblo. The Cowgirls outscored Pueblo 39-22 in the second half to overcome a halftime deficit.
CSU Pueblo jumped out to an early 10-4 lead at the game’s first media timeout, as the Cowgirls struggled to find their offensive rhythm. Out of the timeout however, UW went on a bit of a run, thanks to back-to-back layups fromQuinn WeidemannandAllyson Fertig.
Towards the end of the quarter, the Cowgirls took their first lead of the game, thanks to aPaula Salazarputback that made it 12-10. The two teams exchanged buckets to end the quarter and the score was tied 15-15 after one.
The second quarter began with a 6-0 run from the Cowgirls as they took a 21-15 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the half. Later in the quarter, a Weidemann 3-pointer pushed Wyoming to its biggest lead of the half, 26-19, at the second quarter media timeout.
Out of the media break though, the ThunderWolves went on a 10-0 run over a 1:42 span to take a 29-26 lead with 2:55 to play in the half. After the two teams traded hoops, UW failed to get the final shot of the half to go down and trailed 31-28 at halftime.
The Cowgirls opened the second half hitting three of their first four shots and grabbed a 36-33 lead with 7:38 to go in the third. After 3-pointer fromGrace Ellisand four free throws by the ThunderWolves, aMcKinley Bradshawputback lay-in led to a 41-37 Cowgirl lead at the third quarter media break.
Out of the timeout, Wyoming went to work on both ends of the court, as they kept drawing CSU Pueblo fouls, leading to 12 free throws for the Cowgirls in the third quarter alone. UW also held the ThunderWolves scoreless over a span of more than five minutes to end the quarter and carried a 52-37 lead into the fourth. The Cowgirls ended the third on a 13-0 run. Wyoming outscored the ThunderWolves 24-6 in the third.
“We just talked about being more aggressive,” said Head CoachGerald Mattinsonpostgame.
“I think we were flat to begin. We started attacking the basket and being more aggressive.”
Wyoming opened the fourth much like it ended the third, scoring the first four points of the frame and took its biggest lead of the game, 56-37 with 8:41 to play. A three-point play with 5:45 to go byAlba Sanchez Ramos, put UW back up by 19, as the Cowgirls continued to play suffocating defense and get to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. CSU Pueblo ended the game on a 10-3 run to bring the score closer at the end of the contest.
Weidemann led three Cowgirls in double figures with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from beyond-the-arc. Weidemann also added five rebounds and three assists in the win. Ellis and Sanchez Ramos each added 11 points, while Sanchez Ramos grabbed a team-best eight boards and Ellis pulled down six.
Tommi Olsonhad a solid all-around game as she hit her lone shot, a 3-pointer, and also dished-out five assists, grabbed three boards and had a pair of steals. Salazar andEmily Mellemaled the UW reserves with eight and seven points, respectively.
The Cowgirls ended up out-scoring the ThunderWolves 32-12 in points in the paint and also had a 12-7 advantage in second-chance points. For the game, UW shot 37.3 percent from the field and went 5-of-17 from 3-point range. CSU Pueblo hit 29.5 percent of its shots, including going just 1-of-12 in the third quarter. The ThunderWolves hit 8-of-33 3-point attempts Tuesday.
Wyoming hit 18-of-25 (72 percent) free throws in the game, including making 16-of-21 in the second half alone.
“We were to get to the free-throw line in the third and hit some big free throws. That was one of the things that we talked about after both exhibition games. We have to be able to step up and hit free throws,” continued Mattinson.
The Cowgirls next shift their focus to another day game, this time Saturday, November 13 at 2 p.m., as Wichita State comes to town.