WYOMING BASKETBALL: Wyoming’s Woes Continue After Another Tough Loss

Plagued by injuries, the Cowboys fall to the U.S. Air Force Academy, 82-74

Guard Noah Reynolds led the Cowboys in scoring with 26 points, but University of Wyoming was unable to come away with a victory Tuesday against the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics)

By Kaycee Clark-Mellott

Special to the Wyoming Truth

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—The Wyoming Cowboys basketball team cannot manage to get back in the win column. After a trip to the U.S. Air Force Academy Tuesday, the Pokes failed to get their first Mountain West Conference victory.

The Air Force Falcons (11-7, 2-3) hosted Wyoming for the teams’ first meeting of the season. Following a slim win over Fresno State, the Falcons looked to continue their two-game winning streak.

Guard Ethan Anderson shot 4-7 from the free throw line, hitting several big-time free throws. Anderson’s improved free throw shooting helped him score 14 points against the U.S. Air Force Academy.  (Courtesy photo from the University of Wyoming Athletics)

Injuries continue to nag the Wyoming team, as Hunter Maldonado was missing from action. Maldonado struggled to breathe Saturday against Boise State and was officially listed with a rib injury. The Cowboys had their 13th different starting lineup, tied for the most in the country.

The Pokes jumped out to a lead as large as 16-6 early on.  But the Falcons continued to battle throughout the first half. With 8:41 left on the clock, Wyoming secured its largest lead of the game when Xavier DuSell scored a 3-point shot and made it 22-10.

The Cowboys then scored only six points for nearly six minutes, allowing Air Force to claw back into the game. After Noah Reynolds lost the ball in the final seconds of the first half, the Falcons hit a three with two seconds remaining, shrinking Wyoming’s lead to 36-32.

At halftime, the Pokes’ Reynolds totaled 16 points, two assists and two steals. Wyoming’s shooting looked on point compared to the Falcons’, with 56% from the field for the Cowboys and only 40% for the Air Force. The Falcons also only shot 26% from beyond the arc.

Out of the break, Air Force brought the game to a tie in just over a minute and then took the lead on the team’s next shot, making it 41-38.  

It was a back and forth second half, and the game remained in reach for Wyoming until about 50 seconds were left on the clock. The Falcons opened an eight-point lead, and it was all but over after some free throws. Air Force handed the Cowboys their eighth straight loss and sixth conference loss, 82-74. 

Reynolds finished with 26 points and six assists. Other double digit scorers for the Pokes were Ethan Anderson with 14, DuSell with 12 and Nate Barnhart with 11. Barnhart finished five for five from the field in his first-ever start.  

For Air Force, forward Beau Becker contributed 23 points. Interestingly, Becker only had 61 points all season prior to this contest.

Forty-two of Wyoming’s points came from the paint, a different style than what the Cowboys have attempted in previous games. However, the Cowboys’ downfall came defensively, as it allowed the Falcons to score 17 points off of their turnovers.

Next game up

Next, Wyoming will host its edition of the Border War against Colorado State (10-9, 2-4) on Jan. 21. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Laramie. The game will be broadcast on FS1 and the Cowboys Sports Network.

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