The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team found their range from three early against the Colorado State Rams, as the Cowboys earned an 80-74 victory over their rivals in the first round of the Air Force Reserve Mountain West Basketball Tournament. The Cowboys matched their season high for threes in a half with eight makes in the opening 20 minutes.
Five Pokes reached double-digit scoring, as Kwane Marble II (20), Jake Hendricks (16), TJ Taylor (15), Hunter Maldonado (13) and AJ Banks (10) provided a balanced attack. Marble II’s output is a career-high and the first 20-point game for the freshman. The Cowboys had a season-high 19 assists paired with a season-low seven turnovers.
The Cowboys shot a season-high 46.2 percent (12-26) from three, including a blistering 57.1 percent (8-14) in the first half.
Hendricks got the Cowboys off to a 9-4 lead with a trio of triples in the first two-plus minutes of the contest. After Nico Carvacho cut the lead to 9-6, Taylor and Marble III added five points to build a 14-6 lead with 16:05 in the opening frame.
Marble II and Greg Milton III knocked down triples with under 14 minutes to play, as Wyoming built the lead to 12 points at 22-10. To that point of the contest, Wyoming was 6-of-7 from behind the arc. Sophomore Hunter Thompson returned to the lineup and added two free throws with Marble II to make it a 26-10 game in favor of the Brown and Gold.
The Rams would answer making five-straight baskets and added freebies to make it a 28-24 game with 8:30 left in the half. Wyoming missed six-straight shots, as the Ram defense frustrated the Cowboy offense. Taylor added his second three of the game stopped the slide with 6:40 left in the frame, as Marble Answered the following possession for a 34-26 lead for the Pokes.
Both teams would battle from there with the Pokes taking a 44-39 lead into the half. Wyoming’s 44 points was the most in the first half this season, as were the eight three pointers the cowboys hit in the opening 20 minutes.
Maldonado opened the second half with a pair of buckets in the opening ninety seconds to make it a 48-39 game in favor of the Pokes. Hendricks pushed the lead back to double-digits at 51-40 with 18:08 left in the game. The Rams went on an11-0 run over five minutes to make it a 53-51 game with just under 12 minutes remaining. Marble II ended the Pokes scoring drought with a three pointer seconds later to build the lead back to five.
Hyron Edwards of CSU would knock down a three to make it a two-point game with 8:55 left, but yet again the youngster Marble II answered with a triple to make it a five point contest at 61-56. Maldonado made it an eight point game with a three-pointer from the corner for a 64-56 lead with 6:41 left.
Banks added back-to-back buckets with under four minutes remaining to give Wyoming a 69-56 lead. It was his first points of the contest in his first game in his hometown of Las Vegas this season. The Pokes would then seal the game at free throw line finishing the contest 5-8 in the final minute on their way to the 80-74 victory.
The Rams were led by Isaiah Stevens with 22 points and eight rebounds. Nico Carvacho had a double-double for the Rams with 20 points and 15 rebounds
The Cowboys advance to the quarterfinals to faceoff against third-seeded Nevada in an 8:30 p.m. start on CBS Sports Network.