The Wyoming Cowboys could not hold back a Texas Southern rally on Monday evening in the Arena-Auditorium in a 76-74 loss on a last second shot. Wyoming held a 19-point advantage at the break, but UW was held to 31 percent from the field in the second half dropping their first contest of the season.
Wyoming shot 57 percent in the opening frame holding TSU to 38 percent. But the Tigers flipped the tables in the second half shooting 55 percent and used 48 points in the paint on the night. The Cowboys finished the night shooting 45 percent from the field, but were held to one three pointer in the second half after knocking down seven in the opening 20 minutes.
“It was a tale of two halves,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “I thought in the first half we played extremely well. We defended well against a team that is picked to win the SWAC. That is a team that was in the same situation with Washington State a few nights ago. In the second half, they decided to sit a couple guys and played a couple of their more experienced, tougher guys and you could see that. I think they’re the 15th or 16th most experienced team in the country. We’re probably one of the 15 least experienced teams in the country. We missed some assignments in the second half and allowed some of their players to do some things that we had talked with our guys about that we needed to take away to be successful.”
The Cowboys were led by junior Hunter Maldonado, as he added a season-high 18 points. He also added nine rebounds. Freshman Marcus Williams added 17 points and four assists, one assists behind the team leader Maldonado. Junior Drew LaMont added 12 points for the Pokes all in the first half. Freshman Jeremiah Oden recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Oden is the first freshman to record a double-double since Afam Muojeke recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds against Air Force on Jan. 27, 2009.
“It is unfortunate because our guys did battle hard,” Linder said. “We’re still missing a couple key guys, which if we had them available would allow some of our players to play fewer minutes than they are having to play right now. But what is good about the minutes our younger players are getting right now is it is going to allow them to get better with more experience.”
Both teams traded blows early in the contest with Williams leading the Cowboys. Williams led UW early with a highlight slam. But the Tigers responded with a 5-0 run to take a 9-4 lead nearly three minutes into the game. But a 5-0 run led by the Maldonado and Jeremiah Oden tied the game a minute later.
Both teams went 0-of-5 from the field until an and-one play from Oden made it a 12-9 game at the 13:49 mark of the opening half. Wyoming then added a 9-0 run to build a 21-12 lead thanks to Maldonado, Eoin Nelson and Drake Jeffries.
Lamont added a pair of three points, as Wyoming made six-straight shots to build the lead to 29-16 halfway through the frame. The Pokes were on first from the field shooting 65 percent from the field to that point.
The Tigers responded with an 8-0 run over 1:35 for a 29-22 with eight minutes left in the half. But LaMont added his third triple later to make and a bucket in transition from Oden made it a 36-24 game with five minutes in the opening stanza.
The Pokes used a 10-0 run over 1:47 to build a 50-30 advantage with just over a minute left in the half. Wyoming held TSU without a field goal for nearly five minutes to close the half and took a 50-31 lead at halftime.
The Tigers cut into the Pokes lead to open the second half making it a 10-point contest with 13:22 left for a 57-47 game. TSU went on a 9-0 run over nearly three minutes. TSU later cut it to nine points with 11 minutes left for a 60-51 game for the Pokes.
Texas Southern cut the lead to seven points, but back-to-back baskets from Oden and Williams pushed the lead to 64-53 with under nine minutes remaining. But the Tigers used back-to-back trips down the floor collecting and-ones for a 67-61 game with 6:17 left in the game.
The hot streak for the Tigers continued, as Texas Southern made it a four point contest with 3:53 left in the game. Texas Southern’s Galen Alexander hit two free throws for a 74-72 game and Michael Weathers hit a layup to tie the game with 1:20 left. Wyoming went over four minutes without a field goal, as Alexander hit the game winning shot with 1.6 seconds left.
Texas Southern was led by Weathers with 21 points on the night. He also added a team-high seven rebounds. He went 10-of-19 from the field for the game. John Walker III added 16 points and six rebounds.
Wyoming will wrap up the homestand on Wednesday hosting Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium.