(UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. (Nov. 10, 2017) – Senior forward Hayden Dalton recorded a career-high 30 points to go along with 13 rebounds to help the Cowboys to a 74-65 win over the Chattanooga Mocs on Friday evening in the Arena-Auditorium. It was the most points by a Cowboy in a season opener since Afam Muojeke scored 31 against Bakersfield on Nov. 14, 2008.
“For ourselves, I tell our guys it is about playing a faceless opponent,” head coach Allen Edwards said. “It’s about going out and trying to get better every time we have an opportunity. I thought there were lapses in the game where we relaxed. I think guys get caught up in the score sometimes versus going out and playing Cowboy Basketball for a full 40 minutes.”
Dalton played all 40 minutes of Friday’s contest, the only Cowboy to do so and also the only Poke with double-figure scoring. Dalton drained 9-of-17 attempts including 5-of-9 from three-point range, and converted on 7-of-8 free throws. It was his 13th career double-double.
“I played Hayden (Dalton) all 40 minutes tonight,” Edwards said. “I really didn’t want to, but at the end of the day we’re still a little banged up, so we needed him. I thought H.D. did a great job of showing his leadership skills. Not only did he play well offensively, but I thought he competed well on the defensive end of the floor.”
Senior forward Alan Herndon led all players with four blocks. Freshman Hunter Maldonado became the first true freshman to start a game since Brandon Ewing in 2004. He added seven points in 32 minutes. Sophomore guard Cody Kelley added nine points off the bench.
“With Hunter (Maldonado) being a freshman, I don’t know if I was planning on playing him 32 minutes, but I wanted to get him out there as much as possible so he could play through things,” Edwards said. The more he is out on the court, the more accustomed he gets to playing at the college level. I thought he did a great job of playing with a lot of energy tonight. The stat sheet doesn’t necessarily show that.”
The Cowboys hit 10 three pointers on the night and have hit double-digit three pointers in 15-of-their-last 16 games dating back to last season. For the game, Wyoming shot 42 percent (20-of-48) and held Chattanooga to 40 percent (24-of-60). The Mocs held the advantage on the glass 38-35.
Both teams opened the game with slow starts offensively. Herndon and junior guard Justin James opened the scoring for the Cowboys, as UW took an early 5-4 lead into the first media timeout at 15:57 of the first half. The Pokes added to their lead with four-straight triples. Dalton hit three in a row and Kelley added one to make it an 18-8 contest with 11:11 remaining in the opening frame.
The Pokes held the Mocs scoreless for over four minutes halfway through the half, as Chattanooga shot only 23 percent from the field to open the contest. Dalton continued to shine with seven-straight points to build the Pokes’ lead to 31-19 with under five minutes remaining in the frame.
The Pokes would take a 40-29 lead into the break thanks to 19 first-half points from Dalton. The Pokes hit nine triples in the opening frame, while holding Chattanooga to 37 percent from the field and 22 percent from beyond the arc.
A 7-3 run by the Mocs to open up the second half cut the Cowboys lead to single digits at 43-36 game in favor of the Pokes. A layup by Kelley extended the lead to 13 points with under 14 minutes to go, but UTC cut it to single digits at 49-41 with a triple with 12:27 remaining.
A silky smooth reverse layup by Maldonado made it a 10-point game at 53-43 with 8:14 remaining. The Mocs stayed in the game with their dribble penetration cutting the lead to as little as seven at 57-50 with 6:14 remaining.
The Mocs tried to make a late comeback, forcing the Pokes to convert at the free throw line. In the final 45 seconds, Redding took three trips to the charity stripe and knocked down five of six attempts to seal the game for Wyoming, 74-65.
The Mocs had five players score in double figures. Guard Nat Dixon led UTC with 14 points on the night. Guard Redney Chatman added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
The Cowboys return to action on Monday heading to Oregon State for a 9 p.m. tip on the Pac-12 Network.