Quick takes: Stats sometimes do lie
SEATTLE -- If basketball was played on paper, Wyoming likely would've gotten boat raced in the Pacific Northwest.
* Washington scored 20 points off a season-high 17 Cowboy turnovers
* Wyoming went 20-of-32 from the free-throw line
* The Cowboys were outrebounded on the offensive glass, 16-8
* Jeff Linder's squad went just 3-of-16 from behind the arc
* The visitors finished with only three assists
You can tack on second-half foul trouble for leading scorer Graham Ike, another game without the services of Kenny Foster and a 30-point outing -- 21 of which came in the final 20 minutes -- for Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr.
In year's past, stats like this result in a blowout. In year two of the Linder era in Laramie, we know that isn't always the case. It wasn't Thursday night inside Alaskan Airlines Arena where Wyoming escaped with a 77-72 overtime victory over the Huskies, improving the Cowboys record to 3-0 on the season.
Ike finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Hunter Maldonado netted 24 and added 10 more boards in the win. Xavier DuSell hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Jeremiah Oden added seven, including a huge turnaround jumper early in the extra frame.
It wasn't pretty. Linder didn't expect it to be, either.
"That's what a good team does -- you find a way to win ugly," Linder said postgame. "That's what you do."
The game plan was quite simple, really.
Linder saw an advantage down low on film and his plan was to exploit it. The Cowboys did just that. The Huskies got a steady dose of Ike and Maldonado down low. It came in waves, especially during the extra five-minute frame where Wyoming outscored Washington, 12-7.
Three of those buckets came in the paint. The other six came courtesy of some clutch free throws from Ike, Maldonado and a final pair from DuSell.
"What a great collective team effort to just find the resiliency and toughness to come on the road and to beat a very talented PAC-12 team on their home court," Linder said. "It just shows a lot about the players in the locker room. The coaching staff put together a good game plan and then the players went out and executed it."
The Cowboys survived on this night despite the off night in a number of important categories. Linder, as always, was quick to put things in perspective -- It's Nov. 18.
The season is young. His team, younger.
"We just had to find a way to just be the team in the end that found a way to make some of those winning plays," Linder said. "Every guy that played contributed."
Wyoming 77, Washington 72 OT
KEEP FEEDING THEM
Jackson Grant confidently puffed out his chest and chewed on his white mouth piece as his teammates gathered around.
The swagger pouring out of Washington's 6-foot-10 freshman was well-deserved. With 2:50 remaining in the first half and the Huskies leading 27-26, the former McDonald's All-American held his ground against Ike on the edge of the paint. With the shot clock dwindling, Wyoming's freshman attempted a fadeaway from 12 feet out.
Grant rejected it. Ike ended up on his wallet.
It was a solid sequence against the Cowboys' big man.
It was also one of the only highlights the Huskies served up on defense in the interior all night long.
Ike finished with a game-high 17 points in the first 20 minutes of play on 8-of-14 shooting. After that blocked shot, Ike netted four more points to give the visitors a 34-31 lead at the half.
Ike was just as dominant as those numbers would suggest.
His turnaround jumper from the left side was smooth. He forced Washington defenders off their feet and made them pay on numerous trips down the court. The Aurora, Colo., product had the jump hook going, too.
Nate Roberts couldn't do anything about it. Neither could Langston Williams. Aside from his one possession in the sun, Ike also handled Grant with ease.
Washington, finally, decided to double Ike early in the second half. That wasn't all that effective, either. Linder has thrown that scenario at him all summer and throughout fall camp.
The only thing that saved the Huskies -- and maybe kept them in this game -- was Ike picking up two quick fouls in the first two minutes of the second half. His next one came minutes later. Ike missed nearly 10 minutes of action.
With Ike on the bench, Maldonado didn't skip a beat. He dribbled down low, looked for the open pass and more times than not went up and under and made one controlled bucket after another. The redshirt junior scored nine points in the second half and netted four in overtime. He went 9-of-18 from the floor in 44 minutes on the court.
"It's invaluable. You can't put a price on experience," Linder said of Maldonado. "... To have a guy like Maldo, who we didn't take out in the second half or overtime, for him to play through some of his fatigue -- they were trying to double him and keep the ball out of his hands -- I mean, that takes a lot of energy. Then you ask so much of him on the defensive end. You know he's invaluable in that way."
Hunter Thompson played just 15 minutes of Thursday night's game.
The junior from Pine Bluffs netted just three points. All of those came at the charity stripe. Thompson didn't even attempt a shot from the field in the win and he still makes his way back from a bout with mononucleosis.
Forced to play with four fouls in overtime after Ike committed his fifth, Linder said Thompson made the "play of the game."
With just 34 ticks remaining and the Cowboys clinging to a three-point lead, Thompson tracked down one of the team's eight offensive rebounds and quickly got the ball to Maldonado.
He was fouled and hit one of his two free-throw attempts, giving Wyoming a two-possession lead.
This wasn't the first time Thompson pulled down a rather large late board in a road victory over a PAC-12 team. Last November in Corvallis, Oregon, Thompson pulled down two on the offensive glass in the dying seconds of regulation in a 76-73 win over Oregon State, a team that went on to play in the Elite Eight.
"It was like deja vu of what Hunter did at Oregon State," Linder said. "... You know, he's a really good rebounder when he has a chance to come in from the perimeter, especially an offensive rebounder.
"So, for him to be on the bench, to come in cold and to understand to do his job -- that was a huge play."
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players