Pokes furious second-half rally falls short in loss to Boise State
LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- The Cowboys surged late with a furious rally but ran out of steam in the waning moments Friday night, losing to top-seeded Boise State, 68-61.
Wyoming (25-8) found itself trailing 58-46 with 4:38 remaining, before cutting the deficit down to just 64-61 with 31 seconds to play. However, the Broncos would hit a pair of free throws before getting a defensive stop to salt the game away.
The Pokes ended up shooting 42.6% from the floor, after hitting just 38.5% in the first half. The Broncos (26-7) meanwhile, shot 47% from the field. Boise State hit 16-of-21 free throws on the night while UW was just 8-for-13 at the line.
Wyoming was led by Graham Ike with 18 points while Drake Jeffries and Hunter Maldonado scored 17 each. Jeffries drained 5-of-8 from beyond-the-arc, as the rest of the Cowboys hit just 2-of-17 from deep. Maldonado ended his night by adding a team-high nine boards to go along with five assists and a career-high four steals.
The Broncos got out to an early 10-2 lead on the Pokes scoring on their first four tips down the floor in the opening two-plus minutes of the contest. The Pokes would go to the paint and make it a 12-8 game with just under 15 minutes left.
The Pokes would go scoreless for nearly three minutes, as Boise State would build its lead to 15-8. The drought was halted by Maldonado with free throw with just under 12 minutes left in the half. After Boise State made it a nine-point contest, Wyoming went on an 8-0 run with triples from Jeffries and Brendan Wenzel and a jumper from Ike for a 18-17 game for Boise State with 7:59 left in the first frame.
The run was halted by a 3-pointer from Naje Smith to push the lead back to four.
The Broncos responded with a 7-0 run to make it a 25-17 game. Jeremiah Oden stopped the surge with a bucket with just over four minutes left in the half. Boise State would push their lead to 12 with Malden Armus going on a 5-0 run himself for a 35-23 contest in the final minute of the half.
Maldonado added five points early in the second half to make it a 12-point game at 40-28. A pair of free throws by Jeffries made it a 10-point contest at 40-30 with 16:28 left in the game. But the Cowboy offense would go cold for a stretch that saw Boise State make it a 46-32 game with under 14 minutes remaining.
Maldonado added an and-one play for a an 11-point game, But Boise State went on a 6-0 run for a 52-35 game with under 12 minutes remaining. The Pokes cut it to a 12-point game, but the Broncos pushed it back to 16 points halfway through the second half.
The Pokes went scoreless along with the Broncos until Jeffries added a triple for a 56-43 contest at the 7:03 mark of the second frame. He added another three-pointer for a 10-point game at 56-46 the following trip down the floor.
The Broncos were held scoreless for over five minutes until an Emmanuel Akot jumper made it a 58-46 game with 4:38 left in the contest. Ike would power the Pokes to a seven-point game at 58-51 with 1:52 remaining.
Ike made it a five-point game at 59-54 with an and-one play with 1:26 left in the contest. After a Bronco free throw, Maldonado cut the deficit to 60-56 with under a minute to play on a layup. Boise State hit both freebies the next time down the floor, which was then followed by an Oden driving layup. Jeffries’ final 3-pointer of the night got the Cowboys within three but couldn’t get any closer from there.
The Broncos were led by Abu Kigab’s 22 points while Armus netted 16 and pulled down 13 boards while going a perfect 6-for-6 from the field.
The Cowboys will await their postseason fate on Sunday, as Wyoming will look for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.