Wyoming claims consolation title in Hawaii
* University of Wyoming Athletics media relations release
HONOLULU -- Guard Hunter Maldonado did his best Santa Clause impression handing out 10 assists tying a career-high in a Christmas Day win over South Florida by a score of 77-57 in the Consolation Championship game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Saturday in Honolulu. Maldonado along with forward Graham Ike combined for 42 points for the Pokes, as Wyoming finishes non-conference play with a 11-2 record.
“First off I want to thank everyone who made this tournament possible,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “I’m also thankful for our players, coaches and support staff it is nice to spend Christmas here, but a lot of sacrifice not being with family. We have great people in this program with a special group of guys. I challenged the guys to step us. For us to take the next step we have to find guys to earn minutes and that’s what our bench did tonight.”
The Cowboys held the Bulls to 32 percent shooting in the second half, outscoring the Bulls 44-24. The Cowboys hit 10 threes for back-to-back double-digit three-point games for the first time this season. Wyoming shot 46 percent with the Bulls shooting 39 percent, as all three opponents in the tournament shooting below 41 percent.
The game marked the 13th time in Maldonado’s career that he has scored 20 or more points with his 22 for the morning. Ike added his fifth 20-point scoring game of the season with his 20 points. Guard Kenny Foster added a season-high eight points with forward Jeremiah Oden adding 10 points going a perfect 4-of-4 from the field. Guard Xavier DuSell added 11points on his birthday.
The Pokes raced out to an early 8-4 lead on the Bulls, but South Florida would go on a 5-0 to take a 9-8 lead with 16:07 left in the first half. Ike would go on a 6-2 run against the Bulls himself to give Wyoming a 15-11 lead two minutes later.
After a bucket from Maldonado to give Wyoming a six-point lead, South Florida would battle back to tie the contest at 17-17 at the 11:01 mark of the frame. South Florida would use the free throw line to take a 20-19 lead with just over nine minutes left in the half.
After the Cowboys took a brief lead at 24-22, the Bulls went on a 6-0 run to take a 28-22 lead at the 5:46 mark of the stanza. Wyoming would go on a 5-0 run led by Maldonado and Ike and would later tie the contest at 33-33 for the score at the break.
The Pokes used a pair of threes early in the second half from Maldonado and Oden to take a 39-35 lead. Oden would add another triple as Wyoming pushed the lead to 42-36. Oden would push the lead to seven points with an alley-oop jam and DuSell would add a pair of threes, as Wyoming made it a 10-point game at 53-43 with 12:36 to go.
Ike and guard Deng Dut would help the Pokes push the lead to 11 points at the line halfway through the half. Guard Kenny Foster would push the lead to 67-50 with a pair of three pointers with six minutes remaining. The Cowboys would cruise from there leading by as much as 22 in the 77-57 win.
South Florida was led by Javon Greene and Caleb Murphy with each scoring 14 points along with Jamir Chaplin’s 14 points.
The Wyoming Cowboys open Mountain West Play on New Year’s Day hosting Boise State at 2 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.
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