(UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – After the Northern Colorado Bears opened the game with five-straight three pointers, the Pokes would take a lead halfway through the second half but could not hold on, falling to UNC 84-91 on Tuesday evening in the Arena-Auditorium. The loss broke the Cowboys 20-game non-conference home winning streak that started exactly two years ago with a win over Omaha on Dec. 19, 2015.
“I thought they shot the ball really well tonight, probably due in part to a lack of defense,” Uw head coach Allen Edwards said. “I was happy with how we fought back, but we’ve been playing with fire with these close games. Like I told the team after the game, some of things that hurt us tonight weren’t things we didn’t cover. Either it’s miscommunication or some disconnect between what information we’re giving them and what they’re retaining.”
Wyoming closes out non-conference play with a 9-4 record. The game also saw the Pokes 13-game home winning streak dating back to last season come to an end. The Bears are 9-3 on the season after the win.
Junior guard Justin James led all scorers with a season-high 25 points. James netted a career-high 11 field goals and led the team with three assists. Senior forward Alan Herndon added 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Senior forward Hayden Dalton put in 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and 2-of-2 at the free throw line. Redshirt junior guard Nyaires Redding and senior guard Louis Adams added 11 and 10 points off the bench, respectively.
The Pokes scored 54 points in the paint for over 50 points in the lane for the second time in their last three games. Wyoming shot 53 percent from the field, a season high. The Bears hit 14 threes in the game including nine in the first half. Wyoming hit three triples on the night on a season low nine attempts.
When asked about the season low in three point attempts head coach Allen Edwards said. “I thought that was more related to not being able to get out in transition and spread the floor. We get more attempts in those situations and I thought they did a great job of getting back. I’m sure a key for them was to keep us off the three point line. But over the course of the game it was just talking about defense. We had a segment where we played really well to get back into the game, obviously after how we started. Tip your hat to Northern Colorado, they played well tonight.”
The Bears raced out to a 15-0 lead on the Pokes hitting five-straight threes to open the game. Freshman guard Jalen Sanders hit three of the triples. The run was halted by three pointers from redshirt freshman guard Cody Kelley and Dalton to make it a 15-6 game four minutes into the contest.
The Pokes pulled within four points at 26-22 with 11:37 left in the opening frame. Redding nailed a three from the corner and Adams earned a fast-break dunk off a steal to fuel the 5-0 run. Redding would cut it to a two-point game minutes later on a fast-break layup and a pair of free throws after a bench technical to make it a 29-27 game.
The Pokes tied the game at 31-31 with 6:58 left in the opening half. Adams hit a pair of free throws to tie the contest, but it was short lived as the Bears went on a 4-0 run to take back the lead at 35-31. A pair of three pointers by the Bears pushed the lead to 10 points at 47-37 with under two minutes left in the half.
The Pokes went on an 8-0 run to close the first half and ended the stanza with a buzzer beating dunk from Herndon to make it a 47-45 game at the break. The Pokes shot 54 percent from the field with the Bears hitting nine three pointers in the first half.
Herndon tied the game at 47-47 to open the second half with a slam. The Bears would open the lead back to six points at 59-53, as Sanders paced UNC on the run with just under 15 minutes left in the half.
The Pokes would cut the lead to as little as one point at 65-54 with 11:52 left in the game and with 9:39 left to make it a 69-68 game. Dalton and James led the Pokes back into the game both getting into double-figures.
The Pokes would take their first lead of the contest, as a cutting James hit a layup on a nice dish from Dalton to make it a 72-71 game with 7:12 remaining. The Bears would go on a run spearheaded from redshirt senior guard Andre Speight to take an 81-76 lead.
The five-point lead held until the final minute of the contest. A three-point attempt from Dalton that would have cut the lead to three rattled out with eight seconds left. The Bears’ Spight converted his final two free throws to seal the 94-81 win for Northern Colorado.
Spight led the Bears in scoring with 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-9 from long range. Spight also dished out a team-high 10 assists for the game’s only double-double. Sanders added 16 points including four triples, while junior guard Jordan Davis and redshirt senior guard Anthony Johnson each contributed 13 points.
The Pokes open conference play on Dec. 27 hosting San Diego State in the Arena-Auditorium for a 7 p.m. start on ESPN3.com.