WYOMING BASKETBALL: Banged Up Cowboys Unable to Upset Utah State, 83-63

Wyoming extends losing streak to six games

Forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) sets the screen for guard Hunter Maldonado against Utah State Tuesday night. Maldonado finished the game as Wyoming’s leading scorer with 20 points, while Agbonkpolo contributed six. (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics)

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

LOGAN, Utah—In the past five years, the Wyoming Cowboys were 2-3 against the Utah State Aggies on their home court—and only 4-6 in their last 10 matchups.

In the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Tuesday night, it became apparent from the start that it would not be an easy game for the Cowboys. With just under 8,000 in attendance, most being Aggie students, the arena echoed with screams and chants against Wyoming.

The Aggies average the 20th most points per game in the country (81.8), and junior guard Steven Ashworth leads the country in 3-point percentage at 52.7%.

Plus, Wyoming’s injured list continued to expand: Graham Ike, Hunter Thompson, Kenny Foster, Noah Reynolds and Brendan Wenzel were all unavailable ,so the Pokes only had eight players for the game.

Forward Jeremiah Oden sets up for a three against the Utah State Aggies. Oden was the second-leading scorer for the Cowboys with 13 and eight rebounds on Tuesday night in Logan, Utah. (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics)

The Cowboys had a one-point lead 30 seconds into the game, but it was their only lead. Wyoming kept Utah’s lead to single digits until the 7:47 mark in the first half, when the Aggies surged ahead 26-14.

Utah State extended its lead to as much as 16 points late in the half, but led 40-26 at halftime.

The Pokes’ guard Hunter Maldonado never stepped off the court in the first half, scoring six points but committing three turnovers. Forward Jeremiah Oden was the leading scorer for Wyoming, with seven points and three rebounds.

The Cowboys attempted 27 shots in the first half and made 11, with only four of the shots from beyond the arc and only one falling for the Pokes. Due to the lack of players, much of Wyoming’s offense circulated around driving to the basket and scoring in the paint. Only five of the team’s first-half points were not from the paint or a free throw.

On the other side of the court, Aggies’ forward Taylor Funk exploded in the first half for 18 points, 12 from beyond the arc. Star shooter Ashworth was held to a single point and 0-2 from the field.  

Wyoming began the second half on an 8-2 run in less than two minutes, cutting the lead to just eight. However, the Aggies quickly regained the double-digit lead and held it throughout the rest of the game. Utah moved ahead by 25 points, but eventually won the game 83-63.

The Pokes had four players in double-digit scoring: Maldonado at 20, Oden at 13, Xavier DuSell at 10 and Ethan Anderson at 10 with seven rebounds.

Utah State also had four players in double figures: Funk ended with 22, Dan Akin with16 and guards Sean Bairstow and Max Shulga with 14 each.  

The Cowboys are now 5-11 for the season, and head coach Jeff Linder explained what needs to happen for the team to snap its six-game losing streak.

“No one is going to feel sorry for us, so we have got to figure out how to get better from this and move on,” Linder said after the game. 

Next game up  

The Pokes will return to the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 14 for a bout against the Boise State Broncos (12-4, 2-1). Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. MST with the game being broadcasted on FS1 and the Cowboy Sports Network.

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