Hot Shooting From Behind the Arc Lifts Pokes Past Air Force, 77-58

By: See-ming Lee

The Wyoming Cowboys knocked down a season-high 16 three pointers in a 77-58 win at Air Force on Monday evening inside Clune Arena in Colorado Springs.  The 16 threes by the Pokes was the most since hitting 16 against Northern Iowa on Dec. 3, 2016. UW moves to 8-5 overall and 2-4 in conference play with the Falcons falling to 4-8 overall and 2-5 in the MW.

It was the largest conference win for the Pokes since defeating Utah State by 19 points in the Arena-Auditorium on Feb. 6, 2016.

“Our guys did a really good job of going back and watching film,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said.  “A team like Air Force needs to have pressure put on them. We took them out of rhythm and disrupted what they wanted to do. Our ball pressure allowed us to do that tonight.”

Freshman Xavier DuSell added a career-high 19 points on the night including a career best five three pointers. It was the third game in the last four he has reached double figures. Sophomore Kenny Foster added 13 points for his fifth game this season in double-figures. It was his first game in double figures in conference play. Freshman Marcus Williams added 10 points, as he has scored in double-figures in every game this season. Junior Hunter Maldonado added 11 points for his 12th game in double figures this season. Junior Hunter Thompson led the Pokes tying a season-high with nine rebounds.

“We did a good job not settling for shots,” Linder said. “Our movement tonight was excellent and our energy and cutting is much better tonight. Our guards did a great job getting to the paint and kicking out for wide open threes. It was truly a collective team effort tonight.”

Wyoming hit nine threes in the first frame tying a season-high for a half. Wyoming shot 50 percent from behind the arc. Wyoming held the Falcons to eight percent from behind the arc for the night going 1-of-12. The 58 points allowed was the fewest this season.

The Pokes got off to a 10-2 lead in the opening five minutes of the contest thanks to a pair of threes from Williams and DuSell along with baskets from Marble II and Foster. Wyoming held the Falcons 1-of-6 from the field to open the game.

The Falcons went on a 5-0 run for a 10-7 Wyoming lead, but junior Drake Jeffries and Williams added three pointers to give Wyoming a 16-7 advantage with 11:42 left in the opening half. Wyoming would add two more triples, but the Falcons responded with four-straight buckets for a 22-16 game with 9:20 left in the opening stanza.

The Pokes would go scoreless for over two and a half minutes allowing Air Force to make it a five points contest at 23-18 at the seven minute mark of the half. But the Pokes would do the game thing to the Falcons and built the lead back to double-digits at 30-18 with 4:07 left in the half. Wyoming hit three-straight shots during the run with Williams, Marble II and Foster leading the charge.

Wyoming continued to put the presser on offensively with foster and DuSell getting to double-figures, as the Cowboys took a lead as much as 16 points with under two minutes left in the half. Thompson hit a buzzer beater from behind the arc to take a 38-23 lead into the half.

The Falcons went 6-for-6 to open the second frame, but DuSell helped the Pokes maintain the double-digit lead tying his career high 14 points in the opening minutes of the half for a 45-35 Wyoming lead. Foster added three freebies from the line to make it a 15-point game at 50-35 15:36 left in the game.

Jeffries added a three-pointer to give Wyoming a 20-point advantage at 58-38 with 11:49 left in the game. Maldonado and Marble II went to the paint and held the Pokes build a 66-42 lead with under nine minutes remaining.

Wyoming kept the pressure up and held the Falcons to only right field goals to close the half on their way to the 77-58 win.

Air Force was led by Nikc Jackson with 19 points. A.J. Walker added 13 points on the night.

Wyoming returns to action on Friday hosting Nevada in the Arena-Auditorium in a 6 p.m. MT start on Stadium.