(UW Athletics release)
LOGAN, Utah – After enjoying a sizeable first half lead the Pokes used clutch shooting in the final minutes to record a 85-77 win over Utah State on Saturday evening in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. It was the Pokes’ first win in the Logan in six trips dating back to Dec. 28, 1971. Senior forward Alan Herndon reached 1,000 points in the contest leading the Pokes with 21 points.
The Cowboys led for over 35 minutes and led by 22 points for the largest lead on the road for the Pokes since leading by 28 points at UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 28, 2012. Wyoming moves to 12-7 overall and 3-3 in conference play, as Utah State falls to 10-11 overall and 3-5 in the league.
“What we tried to get our players to understand after the game was it is hard to win on the road,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I loved the way we came out in the first half. But give Utah State credit they came out in the second half. Our guys didn’t panic and stayed the course and we found a way to keep our guys fresh and make plays down the stretch.”
Herndon became the 37th Cowboy player to reach 1,000 points and joined junior guard Justin James in the club. He was 7-of-11 from the field and 6-of-9 in the second half. He added three blocks and went 7-of-11 from the field. Fellow senior forward Hayden Dalton added 20 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Hunter Maldonado recorded a career high 14 points with James adding 11 points.
“I thought what was good as we continue to grow, I let the kids coach each other in timeouts and hold each other accountable,” Edwards said. “Then myself and the coaching staff come in and give instructions. But at the end of the day it was a great team effort tonight.
The Pokes shot 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the arc. The Cowboys were 21-of-25 from the free throw line for 84 percent including six-straight to close the game. The Pokes held Utah State 43 percent from the field.
Both offenses were clicking to open the contest with the Pokes grabbing a 9-6 lead four minutes into the contest. The Cowboys movement off the ball paced the run with three layups with two from Dalton and one from Maldonado.
The Aggies battled back to take the lead at 15-14 with 12:49 left in the opening frame hitting their third three pointer of the contest. The lead was brief as Dalton scored five-straight points to make it a 19-15 a minute later. The Pokes moved the lead to 10 points at 25-15 holding the Aggies scoreless for nearly three minutes.
The Pokes moved their lead to 19 points when Maldonado scored five straight points as part of an 11-1 run with 5:30 left in the half. Wyoming would then move the lead to 22 points moments later for the largest lead on the road in the Edwards’ era of Cowboy basketball. It was also the largest lead on the road since 2012.
The Aggies finished the half on a 5-0 run to make it a 42-25 game in favor of Wyoming at the break. The Pokes held the Aggies to 28 percent from the field in the opening half forcing 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The Aggies opened the second half on a 7-0 run to make it a 10 point contest at 42-32 a minute into the second half. The Aggies continued their run hitting 9 of their first 10 shots of the half to make it a 52-49 game with 14:55 left in the contest.
The Pokes used a 5-0 run with a triples from junior guard Nyaires Redding and a dunk from Louis Adams to make it a 59-52 contest with a tick under 12 minutes left in the contest. Adams was assessed a technical after the dunk, USU’s Koby McEwen hit the free throw and followed with a three-point play to make it a 59-56 game.
The Aggies took their first lead since the 12:29 mark of the first half after a pair of free throws from McEwen to make it a 62-61 game with 7:16 left in the second stanza. The Pokes took a five point lead on a 6-0 run with all the points coming in the paint making it a 69-64 game with 3:47 left.
James gave the Pokes a six point lead on a three pointer with 3:11 left after a nice kick out from sophomore guard Cody Kelley. After Utah State cut the lead to four it was pushed back to six on a half court lob from James to Herndon making it a 74-68 game with 1:58 remaining.
Both teams exchanged threes for a 77-73 game with 54 seconds left in the second stanza. Herndon hit the three for UW, as became the second player to reach 20 points for the Pokes joining Dalton. The Pokes hit free throws late, as USU could not get any closer than four points.
Sam Merrill led the Aggies with 19 points on the night. McEwen added 17 points and a game high 12 rebounds.
Wyoming returns to action on Wednesday evening for a 9 p.m. tip against MW leader Nevada in a contest on ESPNU.