Wyoming Overwhelms Fresno State in first Half, rolls to 85-62 Win
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The Wyoming Cowboys shot 58 percent and hit 10 three-pointers in the first half overwhelming the Fresno State Bulldogs in an 85-62 win on Tuesday evening in the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
Wyoming dominated the glass in the contest with a 45-22 advantage for the best rebound differential since being +23 against Air Force on Jan. 11, 2006.
“It was a total collective effort tonight against a team (Fresno State) that is hard to play against in terms of their athleticism and the way they guard on defense,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We did a good job of really making them feel the altitude. I thought our pace in the first half in terms of getting stops on defense and then making them play up and down the court was really good.”
The Cowboys were paced by Hunter Thompson with a season-high 18 points to go along with four three-pointers. He also added eight rebounds for the third-straight game. He moved to seventh in career three-pointers with 167 passing Reggie Fox.
Jeremiah Oden added 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the third of his career. Hunter Maldonado pitched in with 14 points, going 5-of-7 from the field and adding eight assists. He is now second all-time in career assists in Mountain West history at 583 passing Oscar Bellfield of UNLV.
Nate Barnhart added a career-high 12 points in the contest. Cort Roberson also recorded a career-high two points and recorded his first career block.
“As I said in the pregame, by adjusting the lineup tonight we thought we could create opportunities to get some extra possessions by doing a better job on the offensive boards,” Linder said. “We challenged our starting lineup with Nate (Barnhart), (Hunter) Thompson at the four and then JO (Jeremiah Oden) at the three, and I told JO before the game that you’ve got to rebound. If you can’t rebound you can’t play. He played well and went out and got a double-double.”
Wyoming finished the contest shooting 51 percent from the field for the eighth game this shooting 50 percent or better. The Pokes also added 13 threes in the game and shot 46 percent from behind the arc. The 58 percent from the field in the first half was the second highest in the first half after 60 percent against Howard.
The 10 threes were also the second most in an opening half after 11 against Santa Clara. The Pokes held Fresno State to 38 percent for the third game holding the opposition under 40 percent.
“When you hold a team under 40 percent like we did tonight you’re going to win more games than you’re going to lose,” Linder said. “I didn’t think we had nearly as many breakdowns tonight, and I thought guys really understood what they were supposed to do from a scouting standpoint. When you’re locked in like that -- that is what the result is.”
The Pokes opened the game 0-of-3 from the field, but Maldonado added a layup and Thompson hit a three-pointer to give Wyoming at 5-0 lead in the first two-plus minutes. Wyoming went scoreless for over three minutes allowing the Bulldogs to make it a 5-4 game, but Maldonado added a three and Oden added a layup for a 10-4 contest with 13:42 left in the opening half.
Thompson would catch fire with a pair of threes on back-to-back trips down the floor to make it a 16-6 game. Jake Kyman added a three-pointer and made it a 19-8 game halfway through the half. Ethan Anderson and Barnhart combined for a trio of threes and gave Wyoming a 28-10 lead with 7:34 left in the first half. Maldonado and Oden added buckets to cap a 13-0 run and 32-10 lead.
After Oden added an and-one play, the Bulldogs added a pair of baskets, but Noah Reynolds added a triple for a 40-17 game with 3:20 left in the frame. Oden would be the first player into double-figures with a three-pointer for a 47-25 lead with 73 seconds left on the first half clock and that would be the lead at the break.
Maldonado started the first half with a and-one play for a 50-25 game and would hold the Bulldogs scoreless for 3:30 to open the half. The Bulldogs would go on a 5-0 run to make it a 50-30 game with 15:16 left in the game. Thompson halted the run with a layup for a 52-33 contest.
Thompson helped the Pokes move the lead to 22 points on a pair of occasions with under 14 minutes left. Fresno State would chip into the lead making it a 16-point contest at 57-41 with under 12 minutes left. Reynolds and Anderson pushed the lead back to 20-points halfway through the half.
Fresno State would hit 4-of-5 field goals but could only cut the lead to 17 points and Oden pushed the lead to 19 points at 69-50 with 7:30 left in the game. The Bulldogs would make it a 15-point game a minute later with a bucket and a pair of free throws.
The Bulldogs made it a 14-point game, but Maldonado fueled the game back to an 18-point lead. Oden knocked in a triple for an 81-60 game with just over a minute left. Barnhart and Roberson would add four freebies and Wyoming took the contest 85-62.
Fresno State was led by Isaiah Hill with 11 points and seven assists.
The Cowboys take to the road this weekend. They travel to San Jose State on Saturday for an 8 p.m. contest inside Provident Credit Union Event Center.