WYOMING BASKETBALL: Pokes Drop Fifth Straight Game, Falling to San Diego State, 80-75

Injured Cowboys lose another player with Wenzel going down in second half

Guard Xavier DuSell provided a spark from the bench for the Cowboys against the San Diego State Aztecs, scoring 15 points and going four for five from beyond the arc. (Courtesy photo by University of Wyoming Athletics)

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

LARAMIE, Wyo.— The beaten and battered Wyoming Cowboys could not right the ship against the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday, losing the game 80-75. The Aztecs arrived in Laramie 11-3 on the season and 2-0 in the conference—the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference (MWC).

The Cowboys entered the game without their leading scorer, Noah Reynolds, who took a hit to the head on Dec. 31 against New Mexico. They also were missing leading rebounder Hunter Thompson due to an illness and were still without Graham Ike due to a preseason injury. 

San Diego State at Wyoming

Jan 7, 2023; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys guard Hunter Maldonado (24) shoots against the San Diego State Aztecs at Arena-Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics

The game began with fireworks, as the Aztecs quickly jumped out to a 14-11 lead in four minutes. San Diego got excellent production from their reserves who hit 3-pointers, with forward Keshad Johnson helping the Aztecs to the early lead.

San Diego led by eight points late in the first half, but Wyoming finished on a 9-2 run in the final three and a half minutes, trimming the Aztecs’ lead at halftime to 43-42. 

It was a surprising first half, as San Diego is known for its defense, only allowing 65 points per game on the season.

Wyoming had two players in double figures at halftime: forward Jeremiah Oden and guard Brendan Wenzel, both with 11 points. Guard Hunter Maldonado totaled nine points and six rebounds, while guard Ethan Anderson added seven points. The Cowboys shot 58.6% from the field and 57.1% from three.

However, the Pokes’ defense allowed every player on the court for the Aztecs in the first half to score; guard Lamont Butler led with nine. The team shot 55.6% from the field in the first half. 

To begin the second half, the game flowed back-and-forth; Wyoming held a lead as big as three and the Aztecs as big as five.

But with 13:55 left in the game, Wenzel limped off the court after banging knees with a teammate. He returned to the bench with ice wrapped to his knee and added his name to the Cowboys’ injured list.  

Wyoming lost the lead with 4:33 remaining on the clock, 70-69, and never regained it. San Diego extended its lead in the final four minutes and won 80-75.  

It was the Pokes’ fifth straight loss, putting them at 5-10 on the season and 0-3 in the MWC. Still, Wyoming had four players who scored in double digits: Maldonado at 20, Oden and Xavier DuSell with 15 and Wenzel with 14 before leaving the game. Wenzel was five for five from the field, including four 3-pointers.

The Aztecs’ Butler led the team with 23 points, and reigning MWC player of the week Matt Bradley added 18.

Next games up

Wyoming will travel to Logan, Utah for a matchup on Tuesday, Jan. 10 with Utah State (13-3). Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MST; and the game will be broadcast on FS1 and the Cowboy Sports Network.

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