Pokes Drop Another Close Contest Against San Diego State, 80-75
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Press Release) - Despite shooting 58 percent against one of the nation’s top defensive outfits in San Diego State, the Wyoming Cowboys fell to the Aztecs 80-75 on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. It was the second highest field goal percentage against SDSU this season (59 percent by Arizona). SDSU was receiving votes in both the Associated Press and Coaches Poll. Wyoming falls to 5-10 overall and 0-3 in conference play with the Aztecs moving to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
“Our guys’ effort was tremendous all things considered,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. (Brendan) Wenzel goes out in the second half and it looks like he’s going to be out for a while. But for our six or seven guys to battle a team like San Diego State from a physicality standpoint, I’m really proud of the effort. There are no moral victories. Our guys know that, but we also know that we are getting better. That is arguably one of the top five defensive teams in the country and for us to shoot 61 percent in the second half and 58 percent for the game shows that we’re doing something right on offense.”
The 58 percent from the field, which was the highest field goal percentage since shooting 62 percent against Howard. The Aztecs shot 50 percent from the field in the contest with 12 three-pointers. Wyoming had 10 triples in the game tying for the most allowed by SDSU this season. It was the seventh game with double-digit threes for the Cowboys this season. SDSU won the battle on the glass 29-24 with 11 offensive rebounds.
“Defensively in the second half, we held them to 41 percent but as I said the thing that was going to make the difference defensively was could we minimize their baskets in transition, which we did that in the second half,” Linder said. “Then it came down to it wasn’t going to be the first shot that was going to beat us it was going to be the second shot. We did a tremendous job in the first half -- they only had one offensive rebound when you throw out the one shot they air-balled and then grabbed the loose ball. But they had 10 offensive rebounds in the second half and when you add those to our 14 turnovers, that’s the difference in the game right there.”
Hunter Maldonado, who passed Fennis Dembo with his 129th career start for a school record recorded 20 points to lead the Pokes. It was his 25th game with 20 or more points in his career. Jeremiah Oden added 15 points and a season-high seven rebounds. It marked back-to-back games in double-figures. Brendan Wenzel added 14 points going 5-of-5 from the field, but he went down with an injury in the second half. Xavier DuSell added 15 points off the bench for a season high. He was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Ethan Anderson started the game with an and-one play for the Pokes, but the Aztecs responded with a pair of three-pointers for a 6-3 lead in the opening minute. Brendan Wenzel answered with a triple to tie the contest and hit another for a 9-6 Wyoming lead at the 17:37 mark of the opening half. Lamont Butler added a pair of threes for a 12-9 lead for SDSU.
The Aztecs would build a 16-11 advantage making four-straight field goals five minutes into the frame. The Pokes would go on a 5-0 run with a layup from Anderson and a three-pointer from Jeremiah Oden. Maldonado would give Wyoming a 18-16 lead at the 13:17 mark of the stanza.
The two teams would exchange the lead over the next several minutes until an and-one play from Nathan Mensah made it a 26-22 contest for SDSU with 9:44 left in the opening half. The Aztecs would build the lead to 31-24 with just under eight-minute left in the half on a three-pointer from Adam Seiko.
Xavier DuSell added the rare four-point play and Oden added a layup for a 31-30 game for the Aztecs with 6:15 left in the half. Matt Bradley would go on a 5-0 run himself to lift the Aztec lead to 36-30 at the five-minute mark of the first half. Seiko would hit another three for a 39-31 lead a minute later.
The Pokes would hold the Aztecs scoreless for over two minutes and used the free throw line to cut the Aztec lead to 41-37 with just over a minute left in the half. Brendan Wenzel would hit a three at the end of the half for a 43-42 game for the Aztecs at the break.
After a bucket by the Aztecs Maldonado tied the contest with a three pointer in the opening minute of the second half. Wenzel would give the Pokes a 48-47 lead with a triple at the 17:32 mark of the second half. The Aztecs used a pair of free throws and a triple for a 54 -50 lead with just over 15 minutes left in the game.
Maldonado tied the game with a running floater at the 13:30 for a 54-54 contest. DuSell would add a corner triple off a no look pass from Anderson for a 57-54 lead for UW at the 12:27 mark. Lamont Butler would hit a pair of threes and give the Aztecs a 60-59 lead with just under 11 minutes left.
The Pokes would go scoreless for nearly three minutes with the Aztecs building a 62-59 lead. Oden added a pair of free throws for a one-point game with 8:19 remaining. DuSell would give Wyoming a 64-62 lead with his third triple of the day with 7:41 remaining.
Wyoming would take a three-point lead again on another DuSell triple, but the Aztecs hit a pair of free throws after attacking the offensive glass for a 69-68 game for the Pokes with 5:31 remaining. SDSU would take the lead at the 4:33 mark of the contest for a 70-69 game.
Maldonado made it a one-point game at the line, but Matt Bradley hit a tough contested three for a 75-71 game with 3:16 left. The Aztecs would build the lead to 79-73 with 54 seconds remaining and would take the contest 80-75.
San Diego State was led by Butler with 23 points going 8-of-15 from the field. Bradley added 18 points in the contest.
The Cowboys hit the road and travel to Logan, Utah, on Tuesday. They battle Utah State inside Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 8:30 p.m.
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