LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Cowboys erased a 13-point first half deficit for their largest comeback since 2016 in a 93-88 overtime win over Eastern Washington on Tuesday evening in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes recorded 56 points in the paint for Wyoming’s most points in the interior since scoring 58 against Adams State on Jan. 2, 2010.
“I’m happy with the win and the grit of our guys to find a way to win, but like I told them at halftime I was disappointed,” Edwards said. “I hope our guys feel more like it was a loss, and we can learn from it. We end up winning the game, and it goes in the win column, but I told them even in a victory I’m going to be honest with them. It wasn’t our best performance tonight. We’ve just got to continue to get better.”
The Comeback was the largest under head coach Allen Edwards and the most since UW came back from 17 points against UNLV on Jan. 9, 2016 in a contest also in the Arena-Auditorium. Wyoming moves to 8-3 on the season extending their non-conference home winning streak to 19 games.
“I told our guys that we’re going to get teams’ best shot, and we can’t go out on the floor with the attitude that we’re just going to win because we’re playing at home,” Edwards said. “We had a good heart-to-heart after the game before I came out to talk with you guy.”
The Cowboys shot 60 percent in the second half including 20 points from senior forward Hayden Dalton on 7-of-9 shots and forced some timely turnovers to come back from a 13-point deficit and take the game into overtime. Dalton hit a three pointer with 14 seconds left in regulation to pull UW within two points and tied the game with nine seconds left on a dunk after a steal on the inbounds. The Pokes outscored Eastern Washington 15-10 in the extra frame to win their second overtime game this season.
Dalton led the Cowboys in scoring with 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line. It is the third 20-point game of Dalton’s season and fifth of his career. Junior guard Justin James netted 20 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for his third double-double in the last four games. Senior guard Louis Adams and sophomore guard Cody Kelley each recorded a team-high five assists.
Wyoming finishes the game shooting 53 percent from the field for back-to-back game shooting over 50 percent for the first time this season.
Eastern Washington shot 48 percent from the field and hit 15-of-30 three point attempts including nine makes in the first half.
The Pokes held the advantage on the glass 39-32 and also scored a 10-0 advantage in fast break points. The Cowboys dished out 19 assists on the night to continue their unselfish play.
The Eagles came out flying hitting three triples to open the game to take a 9-0 lead. The Pokes offense struggled going 0-of-4 from the field including two turnovers. Eastern Washington’s leading scorer Bogan Bliznyuk made it a 10 point game at the 16:10 mark of the half, as it was their fourth three in five attempts.
The Pokes went on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 18-15 with 11:19 left in the opening frame. The run was paced by Junior forward Jordan Naughton and Adams adding five points apiece. But the run was followed by a scoreless streak of over four minutes, as an 8-0 by the Eagles made it a 26-15 game with seven minutes left in the stanza.
The Pokes would answer with an 8-0 run lead by James, as he made it a 34-30 contest with under three minutes left in the half. Bliznyuk hit a three pointer as time expired in the half, as the Eagles took a 38-32 lead into the break. The Eagles hit 9-of-16 three point attempts for 56 percent in the first half.
Dalton kept the Pokes in the game to open the second half with seven points to cut the Eagles lead to as little as four points. The Eagles offense kept surging though building the lead back to nine points at 52-43 with 14 minutes remaining in the game.
The Pokes went on a 7-0 run to make it a 52-50 game with 11:20 left in the game. James scored five-straight points with a three pointer and a fast-break dunk after a block from behind. Dalton tied the game with a pair of Dalton free throws with a tick under nine minutes remaining.
Dalton gave UW their first lead of the game on a fade away jumper with 7:23 left in the contest, making it a 59-58 game. The teams would go back and forth with the lead over the next several minutes of play.
Eastern Washington found themselves back in the lead a little over three minutes remaining hitting what was their 14th three pointer of the game to take a 72-67 lead. The Eagles would maintain that lead until the final seconds of the game.
Dalton hit a deep three from the top of the key and followed that up with a dunk on a steal by Herndon to make it a 78-78 game with nine seconds remaining, which would send the game to overtime.
The Pokes got out to an 87-81 lead halfway through the overtime period. The Pokes hit three-straight field goals and used the fast break to fuel the surge. Herndon was also solid to open the frame with four points before he left with an injury.
The Pokes would maintain that advantage until Eastern Washington’s Ty Gibson hit a corner three pointer with 42 seconds remaining to make it an 89-86 game. The Pokes responded with another fast-break bucket, the second-straight from Adams to Dalton, to take a five-point lead.
The Eagles again pulled within three after two free throws from Bliznyuk rattled home. A UW turnover gave Eastern Washington the ball with 24 seconds left and a chance to tie. A three-point attempt from Bliznyuk came up short with two seconds left on the clock. Redshirt sophomore guard Nyaires Redding converted on the two free throws to seal the 93-88 overtime victory.
Bliznyuk led all scorers with 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including nine points from the free throw line. Gibson drained 5-of-10 shots from beyond the arc for 15 total points. The Eagles shot 50 percent from three-point range, after entering the game shooting 31 percent from long range.
The Cowboys will be back in action on Saturday against Texas Southern. The matchup with the Tigers will tip off at 8 p.m. MT.