Maldonado, Jeffries lift Pokes in tight road win against Utah Valley
OREM, UTAH – Junior Hunter Maldonado scored a season-high 30 points and junior Drake Jeffries added a career-high 21 points off the bench to lift the Pokes in a 93-88 road win at Utah Valley on Saturday afternoon in Orem, Utah inside the UCCU Center. The Pokes have now won back-to-back non-conference road games since the 2015-16 campaign.
“I told our guys winning on the road is hard,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “You have to have a certain grit and toughness in order to win on the road. In the first half, whether it was because of the travel or whether playing a few games in a row, I didn’t think we were dialed in defensively. I thought in the second half our guys responded well.
“We found a way to win tonight and that is what good teams do,” Linder said. “The guys found a way when things went the wrong way. The guys didn’t panic and I told them in timeouts go find a way to win and don’t be scared to win. Hunter Maldonado did a great job down the stretch of finding ways to make easy baskets. “
Maldonado was two points short of his career-high of 32 last season against Idaho State. He was 12-of-23 from the field and added seven rebounds and eight assists. Jeffries tied a career-high with six three pointers. Freshman Marcus Williams added 12 points and four assists for the night.
“Drake Jefferies show great character tonight and his play tonight showed the depth of our team,” Linder said. “Over the course of the first six games it has been different guys stepping up at different times.”
The Pokes shot 50 percent from the field in the game with the Wolverines shooting 50 percent as well. Wyoming closed the game hitting five of their last six field goals. The Pokes shot a season-high 52 percent from behind the arc tying a season-high with 13 triples. UVU held a 42-29 advantage on the glass and scored 17 second chance points.
The Wolverines got off to a hot start building a 6-2 lead on the Cowboys and later built the lead to 10-5 with just under 17 minutes in the first half using three offense rebounds to fuel the early success. Maldonado hit a three pointer and added a free throw to make it a 10-9 game a minute later.
Wyoming would battle back and take their first lead of the afternoon on a triple from freshman Xavier DuSell for a 17-16 game at the 14 minutes mark of the frame. Utah Valley responded with an and-one play, as the Wolverines made six-straight field goals for a 19-17 game.
The Pokes went on a 5-0 run thanks to the play of Jeffries off the bench, as he added a block and steal and knocked down a triple to lead the run for a 22-19 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the stanza. The Pokes held the Wolverines without a basket for nearly five minutes, as Maldonado scoring five-straight points to build the Pokes lead to 27-21 halfway through the half.
UVU’s Fardaws Aimaq led the Wolverines on the offense glass to cut the Wyoming lead to 36-35 with four minutes left in the opening frame. Utah Valley kept the pressure up and took a 39-38 lead, as the Pokes were held without a field goal for over three minutes until a triple from Jeffries with 2:30 left in the half to give Wyoming the lea back.
Jeffries added his third three-pointer of the game and Eoin Nelson added a layup as time expired to give Wyoming a 48-41 lead at the break. Wyoming shot 53 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes marking the fifth time in six games Wyoming has shot over 50 percent in the first frame.
After freshman Jeremiah Oden opened the second half with a layup for the Pokes, Utah Valley added a trio of buckets to make it a three-point contest for the Pokes at 50-47 three minutes into the frame. Wyoming answered with a 5-0 run with a triple from junior Hunter Thompson and a pair of free throws for a 55-47 lead for the Pokes with 15:40 left in the game.
The Wolverines battled right back and made three-straight field goals to make it a 59-57 game for the Pokes with just under 13 minutes left in the game. But the run made by UVU was halted by the fourth triple of the day for Jeffries to put the Pokes back up by five points. But UVU wouldn’t go away, making it a one point game thanks to Aimaq making it 62-61 game for UW with 11 minutes left.
Jeffries fifth triple of the game gave Wyoming a four-point advantage and Utah Valley and Maldonado traded layups for a 69-65 game with 8:39 left in the game. The Wolverines would come within a basket, but five-straight from sophomore Kwane Marble the second made it a 75-69 game with 6:28 left in the game.
The Wolverines' Trey Woodbury tied the contest with a layup to tie the contest at 76-76 a few ticks under five minutes left in the game. Woodbury would give the Wolverines the lead seconds later.
The two teams would exchange one-point leads until Thompson gave Wyoming an 85-83 advantage with 1:59 left in the game. After Woodbury added a pair of freebies to tie the game Maldoando made his third-straight attempt to give Wyoming two point lead and Jeffries went over his career-high with a triple for a 90-85 Pokes lead with 45 seconds remaining.
Woodbury would added a triple with 38 seconds remaining for a two-point game at 90-88. Maldonado added a pair of freebies to build the lead back to four points with 10 seconds left to get to 30 points and lift Wyoming to a 93-88 win.
The Wolverines were led by Aimaq with 27 points and 20 rebounds, which was a single game school record. Woodbury added 23 points and Jordan Brinson added 19 points.
• University of Wyoming press release