(Editor’s Note: This is a release from the University of Wyoming)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Cowboys erased a 10-point deficit in the second half to rally past Troy, 72-66 on Monday evening in one of the most unique games in the history of the Arena-Auditorium. The game featured a delay that lasted over two hours after a power outage in Laramie. The Pokes were led by sophomore guard Justin James, as he added a game-high 27 points. UW has now won six-straight games and is 8-0 at home this season.
“Tonight showed great character in our group,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “We had these six games as a season within a season and going 6-0 achieved our goals. We talked about our guys having a laser like focus going into this game and even more so with what happened. It went up and down overall and at the end of the day it was a win.”
James scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to lead UW. He did most of his damage attacking the rim and finished the night going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. He fell just one point shy of his career-high. Junior forward Hayden Dalton recorded his second-straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. He is the first Poke since Derek Cooke, Jr. in 2015 to record a double-double in back-to-back contests.
“Justin (James) is a special player and I think we have a few guys on this team that can be the leaders on any night,” Edwards said. “The toughest part of my job is to manage our guys and see who gives us the best chance to win on any given night.”
Senior guard Jason McManamen added 10 points for his seventh game in double figures this season and 37th of his career. He also added six rebounds. Sophomore forward Jordan Naughton added eight points and nine rebounds on the night.
The Cowboys shot 40 percent (25-of-62) from the field and shot 44 percent in the second half. The Cowboys defense was strong holding Troy to 34 percent from the field. UW came into the game ranking No. 30 in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 39 percent.
The Pokes dominated the glass with 47 rebounds to the Trojans 38. Troy came into the game ranking No. 14 in the nation in rebounding. The Cowboys bench was in prime form once again scoring 40 points. It was the fourth time this season the group has added 40 or more points.
Naughton scored six points in the first four minutes of the contest including two dunks to give the Pokes an early 10-4 lead on Troy. The Trojans used a 7-0 run to tie the contest at 13-13 with 12:12 remaining in the first half. After a missed shot by the Trojans the lights in the Arena-Auditorium suddenly came off leading to the delay.
Troy went on a 5-0 run to open after the delay to take an 18-13 lead. The Cowboys responded with an 8-3 run to tie the game at 21-21 on a dunk from junior forward Alan Herndon.
That run by the Pokes was answered with a 7-0 run by Troy to build a seven point lead at 28-21, but the run was stopped with a jumper from Dalton. He helped lead the Pokes back within one at 28-27 with a steal and a layup with under two minutes left in the half.
The Trojans would take a 32-29 to end the first stanza. The Cowboys struggled from behind the arc in the first half going 1-of-12 for eight percent. The Pokes also turned the ball over nine times that accounted for 11 of the Trojan’s points.
Naughton opened the second half with a bucket, but Troy went on another run this time at 9-0 to build a 41-31 lead with 17:21 remaining in the frame. A scoring slump by the Cowboys of over four minutes was end by a Herndon layup off a steal by Dalton to make it 41-35 with under 15 minutes left in the half.
The Pokes held the Trojans without a field goal for over four minutes, but the offense woes of the Cowboys continued only cutting the lead to five points at 42-37. A 7-0 run by the Pokes cut the deficit to one at 45-44 with under 11 minutes remaining.
Once again a 5-0 run by Troy expanded their lead to six points at 50-44 with under 10 minutes remaining. The Pokes would cut the Troy lead to one once again at 50-49, but couldn’t take the lead after a pair of turnovers. But a three-pointer by Dalton tied the game at 52-52. The Pokes then took a 59-58 lead on a layup by McManamen with under four minutes remaining in the half.
The Pokes offense sparked from that point on outscoring the Trojans 13-8 in the closing minutes. James was unstoppable near the finish adding 10 points for the Pokes, as UW earned the 72-66 win by going 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Troy was led in scoring by Wesley Person, as he scored 16 points highlighted by four three pointers. Guard Jeremy Hollimon added 13 points for Troy. Forward Jordon Varnado led Troy with eight rebounds.
The Cowboys faceoff against DePaul on Thursday evening in the Orleans Arena for the first round of off-campus play of the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic. The game is slated for a 6:30 MT start on FS1. The Pokes will either face USC or Missouri State on Friday evening.