WYOMING BASKETBALL: Pokes Bust, Drop Another Conference Game, 86-72

Cowboys now 1-9 when playing on the road after loss to UNLV

Xavier DuSell shot a near-guaranteed bucket from beyond the arc in the second half against UNLV, scoring all 18 of his points from deep Tuesday night. DuSell sparked the Wyoming offense to attempt a comeback, but ultimately the Cowboys fell short. (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics).

January 25, 2023 

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

LAS VEGAS—The Wyoming Cowboys’ (6-13, 1-6) first visit to Las Vegas this season showcased a matchup of similarly ranked teams that took difference courses to their standings.

Noah Reynolds came alive in the second half, scoring 17 of his 23 points in the final 20 minutes of the game against UNLV. But that wasn’t enough, as the Cowboys fell to UNLV, 86-72. (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics).

The injury-plagued-but healing Cowboys have not lived up to their pre-season hype. After scoring their first victory since early December and only win in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) last weekend, the Pokes hoped to continue their momentum on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels (UNLV) (12-7, 1-6) began their season 11-1 in out-of-conference play, but in the MCW, the Rebels only had beaten No. 21 New Mexico coming into the game against Wyoming.

The Rebels grabbed the lead 19 seconds into the first half, with guard Elijah Harkless knocking down a jumper, 2-0. For the next 39 minutes and 41 seconds, UNLV led until the final buzzer.

The Cowboys couldn’t get their shots to fall. Several 3-point attempts rolled around the rim or bounced around before coming back out of the basket. However, about 12 minutes into the half, the Cowboys gained life, cutting a seven-point deficit in just two-and-a-half minutes, 21-20. After a timeout, Wyoming had three opportunities to claim the lead, but suffered a Jeremiah Oden, Noah Reynolds and a Xavier DuSell missed second chance 3-pointer.

The Pokes shot 36% from the field with 3:29 to go in the first half and only had four of 13 shots from the arc drop.

UNLV extended its lead to as much as 13. Going into the half, Wyoming trailed 41-31. 

The first half was not kind to Reynolds and DuSell, who shot three for eight and three for nine, respectively. The Rebels’ Keshon Gilbert scored 12 points and six rebounds; Jordan McCabe’s 10 points came from the bench.

Out of the half, the Cowboys chipped away at the lead to get within five several times. After Reynolds made three, the Pokes trailed 65-60.

But in just two-and-a-half minutes, UNLV went on a 11-0 run, blowing the game open and making it look like the Rebels would pull out a win as they led 76-60 with 6:47 to go.

The Pokes were not ready to quit. DuSell, Hunter Maldonado and Reynolds, twice scored 3-pointers and cut the Rebels’ lead to just six with 4:12 remaining.

However, an Oden missed 3-pointer halted the Cowboys’ 12-2 run. Wyoming didn’t score again. Adding insult to injury, after a questionable foul on DuSell while Harkless was shooting a three, head coach Jeff Linder let the officials hear it. He received a technical foul, and Harkless shot five free throws, making them all and ending the game with a 86-72 loss for the Cowboys.

Reynolds led the Cowboys with 23 points and seven rebounds, while DuSell added 18 points, all from beyond the arc, and six rebounds.

UNLV climbed out of the cellar of the MWC, leaving Wyoming alone at the bottom with a 1-7 record in conference play.

Next game up

The Wyoming Cowboys are off until Jan. 31, when they will host Fresno State at 8 p.m. The game will air on FS1 and the Cowboy Sports Network.

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