Maldonado’s career night propels Pokes past Border War rival in OT
* University of Wyoming Athletics media relations release
LARAMIE -- Hunter Maldonado, fresh-off a buzzer beater at Air Force, recorded a career-high 35 points to lead the Cowboys past Colorado State 84-78 in the Arena-Auditorium on Monday evening.
He is the first Cowboy to score 30 or more points in back-to-back games since Josh Adams did so during the 2015-16.
The Pokes move to 17-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play. The crowd of 7,539 fans was the largest since 8,148 against Colorado State on Jan. 30, 2016.
The Pokes owned the closing minute of overtime outscoring the Rams 8-2. Maldonado used a spin move and Drake Jeffries added a three pointer and Jeremiah Oden finished the game with a slam, as the Pokes move to 2-0 in overtime this season.
“What can you say,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “That was an incredible college basketball game between two very good teams, who know each other really well. To find a way to win that game in front of that crowd was a great performance by our guys. That crowd tonight is one of the reasons I wanted to come to Wyoming. I know what this place can be like when you put a good team on the floor. Thanks to all the Wyoming fans and to all the students. They were all great tonight, and we’re going to need them every night. I thought our guys did a nice job of handling the excitement and embracing the atmosphere.”
Maldonado was 12-of-19 from the field and 10-of -11 from the free throw line. He also added seven assists and had his hand in 19 of Wyoming’s 28 baskets. Graham Ike added 16 points along with Jeffries. Ike has scored in double-figures in every game he has played this season. Jeffries hit five threes and has four or more threes in nine games this season. Oden added 12 points and seven rebounds going 5-of-6 from the field.
“A lot of big plays in the game,” Linder said. “You never know what play is going to end up swinging a game in your favor. For (Brendan) Wenzel, to come up with that offensive rebound as he was getting knocked to the floor and then for him to know that his right arm wasn’t feeling right before the free throws was huge. And then X (Xavier DuSell) came in and made both free throws.”
The Pokes shot 53 percent from the field in the contest with the Rams shooting 48 percent. Wyoming shot 43 percent from behind the arc and the Rams on of the top three-point shooting teams in the league only hit six. Wyoming also held a 35-29 lead on the glass and have done so in five-straight games.
The Pokes and Rams combined to open the contest 0-of-7 from the field in the opening three minutes, but Maldonado added a pair of free throws and a jumper for an early 4-0 lead on the Rams. Chandler Jacobs got the Rams on the board for a 4-2 contest at the 15:56 mark of the half and Roddy Made it a 5-4 contest seconds later.
Oden hit back-to-back threes and gave the Pokes a 10-5 lead at the 14:45 mark of the half. Isaiah Stevens and John Tonje went on 8-0 run for the Rams to take a 15-12 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the first frame.
The Pokes responded with back-to-back threes from DuSell and Jeffries for a 18-15 lead for Wyoming with nine minutes remaining. The Pokes would build the lead to five points, but Tonje would keep surge the Rams back and free throws from Isaiah Rivera gave Colorado State a 25-24 advantage with 5:37 left in the half.
The Teams would exchange the lead over the next two minutes with Jacobs hitting a three-pointer followed by one from Roddy for a 33-28 Ram lead with 2:45 left in the opening stanza. Kendle Moore would add another basket for an 8-0 run, but Maldonado’s nifty moves in the post made it a 35-30 game with under two minutes left in the frame.
Maldonado another layup and a pair of free throws to make it a 35-34 game with under a minute left and that’s the score that went into the half. Both teams shot 52 percent from the field in the half.
After Oden gave Wyoming a lead, Stevens recorded a pair of buckets and Roddy added a fast break dunk for a 41-36 lead for the Rams with 16:52 left in the game. Maldonado and Ike made it a 41-39 game at the line a minute later.
Roddy and Stevens would help push the CSU lead to 45-39 with 14:32 remaining, as the Pokes went without a field goal for nearly five minutes. Jeffries made it three-point game, but Roddy hit another three pointer for a 50-44 game with 12:41 left.
Ike would go on a 5-0 run himself and made it a one-point Colorado State lead at 50-49 with 11:15 left in the game. After an amazing block by Oden, Jeffries buried a three pointer for a 52-50 lead for the Pokes with 9:24 left.
Maldonado gave the Pokes a three-point lead at 55-52, but Tonje added a slam for a 55-54 with 8:26 left. Jeffries would later give the Pokes the 62-58 lead on his fourth three pointer of the game with five minutes left.
Maldonado and Ike went on a 6-2 run to build a 68-62 lead with 2:10 left, but Roddy answered right back with a three-pointer and Isaiah Rivera added a pair of free throws for a one-point game at 68-67 with 1:47 remaining.
Moore would add a fast break layup to cap a 7-0 run over one minute to make it a 69-68 game for the Rams. Jeffries missed a three-pointer, and the Rams came down the floor, but Wyoming forced a shot clock violation.
The Pokes would get the ball to Ike, as he made both shots to take a lead, but Roddy got to the line and added a free throw to send the game to overtime tied at 70-70.
The big men for both teams in Ike and Roddy fouled out in overtime and Maldonado took over giving Wyoming a two-point lead at 78-76. But Jeffries added a three pointer to push it to five points and an Oden slam would make it an 84-78 win for the Pokes.
The Rams were led by Roddy with 23 points going 9-of-15 from the field.
The Pokes return to action on Thursday hosting Boise State in the Arena-Auditorium for a 7 p.m. start on the MW Network.