Balanced Attack Powers Wyoming Past Colorado Christian, 102-69
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys put on a show with contributions from veterans and newcomers in a 102-69 win over Colorado Christian on Monday evening in the season opener in the Arena-Auditorium.
Six players scored in double figures for the contest, as the 102 points was the most in an opener since scoring 113 against Denver during the 1987-88 season.
“Give credit to CCU (Colorado Christian) and Coach (Liam) Simmons,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “They do a good job. It was good to play a team like them who runs some good action and they run with a good pace and they have a plan. It made our guys have to play hard, and I knew that was going to be the case coming in.”
The Pokes were led by forward Jeremiah Oden, as he tied a career best with 17 points in only 18 minutes of action. Guard Max Agbonkpolo added 16 points off the bench along with six rebounds. Forward Hunter Thompson chipped in with 15 points for the Pokes with a team-high four three-pointers.
Guard Hunter Maldonado added 13 points and seven assists, as he moved into the top-five in career assists in the Mountain West with 520. Guard Noah Reynolds added 12 points just two points shy of his career high. Guard Jake Kyman netted 10 points for the Pokes. Guard Ethan Anderson added seven points with eight assists and tied for the team high in rebounds with six alongside Agbonkpolo.
The Pokes shot 51 percent from the field and held the Cougars to 39 percent, as UW shot 59 percent from the field in the second half. Wyoming knocked down 14 threes in the game with seven in each half. UW held a 41-39 advantage on the glass and recorded 11 fast break points. The Cowboys added 21 assists and scored 50 points off the bench.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of focusing one possession at a time, understanding that we wanted to put some more pressure on the opponent than what we would normally do,” Linder said. “I thought our pressure really caused them problems. And then our depth, which we don’t have all our guys, we were without Graham (Ike), without (Brendan) Wenzel and JO (Jeremiah Oden) missed most of the second half and then Noah (Reynolds) missed some time, when you are playing at 7,220 (feet) at the pace we were playing it puts a lot of pressure on your opponent.
“I think it was a really good start. Without Graham right now, we need to get Maldo in some more dribble-down situations. I think our skill level and our ability to use our depth to get out and play a little bit faster and play a little bit freer in the long run will make us harder to guard.”
Thompson opened the scoring for the season with a pair of threes for a 6-0 lead for the Pokes in the opening three minutes of the contest. Oden added a pair of free throws before CCU got on the board four minutes in for an 8-2 contest.
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Agbonkpolo got on the board for the Pokes with a drive to the hoop for a 15-6 advantage at the 14-minute mark of first frame. His former high school teammate Kyman would score his first points with the Pokes with a triple for a 20-8 Wyoming advantage a minute later.
The Cougars would add a trio of baskets to make it a six-point game at 20-14, but Reynolds sunk a three for a nine-point lead halfway through the half. The Pokes would go 1-of-10 from the field during a stretch until a bucket from Anderson made it a 27-16 game with over eight minutes remaining in the half.
A slam from Oden and layup from Maldonado made it a 36-23 game with under four minutes in the opening stanza. The Pokes would hit a couple threes for a 42-28 lead with two and half minutes left in the half, but the Cougars added a 5-0 run for a 42-33 game.
Agbonkpolo added a rim-rattling slam and a jumper to close the half and give Wyoming a 50-35 lead. Wyoming held the Cougars to 35 percent from the field in the opening twenty minutes.
Both teams got off to a hot start in the second frame each shooting 60 percent or better, but the Pokes maintained a 58-44 advantage in the half’s early goings. Colorado Christian would go on a 6-0 run and cut the lead for Wyoming to 58-47 three minutes into the half.
Maldonado got into double figures with a slam and triple to give Wyoming a 66-49 lead with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game. Guard Kenny Foster, who is back from injury last season added a triple to push the lead to 20 points at 69-49 at the 13:28 mark.
Thompson would cap a 6-0 run with an and-one play for a 77-51 lead halfway through the half. The Pokes would hit 5-of-7 field goal attempts and build the lead to 84-56 with under eight minutes remaining. Kyman added a triple on the run for the Pokes.
The Pokes pushed the lead to 30 points at 90-60 on a fast-break slam from forward Caden Powell with under seven minutes left in the contest. Agbonkpolo went on a 6-0 run himself for a 96-62 lead with under five minutes remaining. He later got the Pokes to the century mark with another slam.
The Pokes would cruise from there and take the contest by a score of 102-69.
Colorado Christian was led by Noah Kon with 16 points on the night going 5-of-7 from the field.
The Cowboys host defending Southland Conference regular-season champion Nicholls on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.
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