* University of Wyoming press release

LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team’s season came to an end Wednesday evening. The No. 11-seeded Cowboys dropped an 87-76 decision to No. 6-seeded New Mexico in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

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“We are so proud of the way everybody in this program, from Hunter Maldonado all the way down to the team managers, for their fight and showing up every day,” UW assistant coach Ken DeWeese said. “These are never easy. That last game, no matter how your season goes, are never easy.”

Wyoming finishes the season at 9-22 overall. The Lobos advance to the quarterfinals where they’ll meet No. 3-seeded Utah State on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MST.

Hunter Maldonado did his legacy justice. In his final game as a Cowboy, the sixth-year senior did everything he could to extend is career.

Maldonado poured in a career-high 36 points, the most ever by a Cowboy in the MW Tournament. He did it in typical fashion, showcasing it from all over the floor with 11 field goals, a quartet of 3-pointers and 10 free throws made. Maldonado added five rebounds and three assists.

“Obviously he’s meant everything to this program. He’s one of the all-time greats,” DeWeese said. “It’s things you can say not just for the University of Wyoming but even for the Mountain West Conference. He’s an all-time great. I couldn’t be more proud. He’s been an absolute joy to coach. He’s done so much for this program.”

Wyoming as a team connected on 41.3 percent (24-for-63) of its shots. That includes 34.5 percent (10-for-29) accuracy from beyond the 3-point arc.

Xavier DuSell and Jeremiah Oden joined Maldonado in double figures. Both had 15 points, and DuSell’s output included four 3s.

New Mexico hit 47.7 percent (31-for-65) of their field-goal attempts. It also made 23.5 percent (4-for-17) of its shots from deep.

Jaelen House paced the Lobos with a game-high 28 points. Jamal Mashburn Jr. added 22 points, while Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick chipped in 15 and 12 points, respectively. Udeze logged a double-double with 11 rebounds.

The Pokes enjoyed a balanced scoring attack early on. Five different players recorded a bucket, as Wyoming trailed 18-17 after a DuSell 3 at the 9:56 mark.

Another DuSell trey with 6:32 to play gave Wyoming its first lead of that game at 25-24. Maldonado accounted for 11 of the final 13 points of the opening half – including the period’s final bucket – to put the Cowboys ahead 38-35.

Wyoming’s advantage grew to as large as four points on another 3 from DuSell with 17:40 to play. New Mexico responded with a 22-7 burst that gave it a double-digit lead at 62-51 with just over 10 minutes left in the contest.

The Lobos’ cushion never slipped below nine points the rest of the way.

Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder wasn’t at the game. Linder is in Colorado tending to his ill father with his family.

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