Cowboys Lose a Heart-Breaker in the Border War [WITH POST GAME AUDIO]

photo courtesy of UW Athletics

by staff–5 Feb ’21

The Wyoming Cowboys dropped a heartbreaker to Colorado State on Thursday evening, as a field goal in the closing seconds by the Rams proved to be a winner in a 74-72 loss in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes fall to 10-8 on the season and 4-7 in conference play with the Rams moving to 13-4 overall and 10-3 in conference play. Junior Hunter Maldonado reached 1,000 career points in the contest becoming the 39th Cowboy to do so.

“First, I want to thank the fans who came out tonight,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “It felt like a regular basketball game tonight to hear the fans cheering.  I know our kids appreciated it, and we as a coaching staff appreciated it.  I hope we’re able to have another good crowd on Saturday. I thought our effort defensively in the first half was really good.  In the second half, they (CSU) shot 61 percent and for the game they shot 55 percent.  We still had a chance to win the game because of the way we played offensively, but we have to learn that the discipline you have to have defensively in a game like this is something you have to maintain the entire game.”

Maldonado becomes the third-straight native of Colorado to score 1,000 career points, following Alan Herndon and Hayden Dalton. He added 14 points and tied for the team lead with six rebounds. Freshmen Marcus Williams and Xavier DuSell added 17 points apiece. DuSell knocked down five threes with Williams also adding six assists. Sophomore Kwane Marble II added 10 points and six rebounds.

“We had some really good looks down the stretch, but hopefully the next time we won’t put ourselves in that situation if our defense can get a little better,” Linder said. “Our guys did play hard and we talked about being Cowboy Tough.  We kept them off the offensive glass — that was an emphasis heading into this game.  (David) Roddy only had one offensive rebound, which was important for us to limit him.”

Wyoming was held to only nine three pointers after hitting 10 or more in six-straight games. Colorado State shot 55 percent from the field for the game and 61 percent in the second half. The Rams also held a 33-27 advantage on the glass for the night.

The Rams took the early advantage on the Pokes using a 7-0 run to make it a 12-5 contest in the first five minutes. Wyoming recorded four turnovers, but ended the run with jumper from Graham Ike to make it 12-7 at the 14:02 mark of the first half.

DuSell added his third triple of the half on a nice pass from Williams to make it a 19-16 game in favor of the Rams. The Cowboys would cut the deficit to one-point at 19-18, but back-to-back buckets by the Rams pushed the lead back to five points with eight minutes left.

DuSell added another triple followed by a layup from Marble II to give Wyoming the lead at 26-25. Maldonado got to 1,000 career points with a layup and was fouled to give Wyoming a 30-29 lead late in the first half.

Wyoming added free throws and a bucket added with Maldonado to cap off an 8-0 run for a 35-29. After a few freebies from Colorado State, Williams added a three pointer to give Wyoming a 38-32 lead at the half.

Both teams traded layups and triples to open the second half. After that junior Hunter Thompson added a three pointer and Williams added a layup for a 48-39 lead for the Cowboys.

CSU responded with an 8-0 run over three minutes, but that was shut down with a thunderous slam from Williams to make it a 50-45 game for the Pokes with 14:32 remaining. Wyoming would go without a field goal for over four minutes, as Colorado State would tie things up at 51.

Wyoming would take a four-point lead at 60-56, but an and-one play from John Tonje and a pair of free throws from David Roddy gave Colorado State a 61-60 lead with 6:34 left to play. TheRams would enjoy the one-point lead for a few minutes until Roddy made it a 65-62 game with 3:14 left.

Marble II would add a pair of free throws and a layup to tie the game up at 66 with 1:32 left to play, but CSU took the lead right back with a three pointer from Adam Thistlewood at the 1:09 mark.

The Rams moved the lead to five points on a pair of free throws, but an and-one play from Hunter Maldonado made it a 71-69 contest with 31 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Maldonado stole the pass and nearly tied the game, but the ball went out of bounds, with possession to the Cowboys.

Wyoming would eventually tie the game up on a three pointer from Williams with 12 seconds left, but Tonje hit a layup with just under six seconds to play for the game-winner for the Rams.

CSU was led by Tonje with 16 points on the night. Roddy added 15 points and led all players with eight rebounds.

Wyoming and Colorado State wrap up their season series on Saturday. The game is slated for a 4 p.m.

Postgame comments from freshman point guard Marcus Williams….

Postgame comments from junior guard Hunter Maldanado….

Postgame comments from head coach Jeff Linder…