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Wyoming Cowboys hold court at home over Detroit Mercy

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Posted at 9:38 AM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 11:43:04-05

(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Wyoming Cowboy defense shined in an 85-47 season opening win over Detroit Mercy in the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday evening. Wyoming held the Titans to 31 percent from the field for the lowest total in the Jeff Linder of Cowboy basketball.

Wyoming shot 55 percent from the field in the contest. It was the best percentage in an opener since shooting 62 percent against Northern Colorado in the 2014-15 season opener. Wyoming dominated the paint 44-16 for the night. Wyoming also added 13 points off turnovers and recorded 15 second chance points.

“I thought our guys really locked into the scouting report, and Coach (Ken) DeWeese did a really good job with the scout, particularly not knowing exactly what they (Detroit Mercy) were going to do,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We had no film or any intel on their two scrimmages that they had against other Division I opponents. We had to base everything off what they did last year.”

Wyoming was led by guard Hunter Maldonado with 19 points. He also added six rebounds and nine assists. Forward Graham Ike added 22 points to lead all scorers. He recorded his second 20-plus game of his career and the second in his last three games after 32 against SJSU in the MW tournament. Forward Jeremiah Oden added 14 points going 6-of-7 from the field. Guard Drake Jeffries added 12 points with a team-high four three-pointers.

“For us to be a really good offensive team and to put pressure on the opponent, we have to be able to get the ball in the paint,” Linder said. “When you have a player like Graham (Ike), he is so good down there and he commands so much attention. Then you add Maldo (Hunter Maldonado) to the mix and his ability to get to those dribble downs like he did in the first half and he is such a good passer -- he had 19 points, nine assists and zero turnovers. Those two guys really stepped things up tonight, and if you can be a team that can play inside out like that combined with the way we can shoot it, it makes us really hard to guard.”

Wyoming held a 37-32 advantage on the glass for the night. Wyoming also recorded 16 assists in the game and recorded six turnovers, the second fewest under head coach Jeff Linder.

The Pokes got off to a 6-0 lead highlighted by a nifty pass from Maldonado and a slam from Oden. Wyoming would add to the lead for 15-3 advantage, as Maldonado and Oden had 13 of the team’s points six minutes into the contest.

Jeffries would add a pair of triples to five Wyoming a 25-8 lead with 11:05 left in the first frame. It was the first threes of the game for the Pokes. Ike could add a pair of buckets to make it a 29-11 game halfway through the frame.

The Titans would go on a 7-0 run for a 29-18 lead with 6:34 remaining in the half. The Pokes went scoreless for nearly five minutes, until Jeffries made his third three-pointer of the game for a 32-18 Wyoming lead with 3:58 left in the half.

The Pokes would add two more triples one from Jeffires and one from guard Xavier DuSell DuSell and a layup from Maldonado to cap an 11-0 run for a 40-18 lead in the closing minutes of the half. Wyoming would take a 40-21 lead into the break.

Wyoming used a 6-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half to take a 48-23 advantage. Another slam from Oden, freebies by Maldonado and a bucket from Ike highlighted the run.

Guard Brendan Wenzel recorded his first career points with a three-pointer to give Wyoming a 55-28 lead with 13:26 remaining in the game. It was part of a stretch of the Pokes going 5-of-6 from the field.

Later in the second frame, Wyoming would go on a 9-0 run to build a 71-35 lead with 6:14 left in the game. Maldonado did most of the heavy lifting during the stretch with seven points for the Cowboys.

Wyoming would cruise from there to take the 85-47 victory.

UW held the nation’s second leading scorer last season Antoine Davis to 16 points thanks to solid defense by DuSell. Madut Akec led the Titans with 13 rebounds and 14 points for the double-double.

“We knew (Antoine) Davis was the focus for them. I thought our effort collectively as a team on Davis and then what X (Xavier DuSell) did defensively was big for us,” Linder said. “You look at the stat sheet and you see that he (DuSell) had only three points and you might not think he had a good game. But his effort defensively on one of the best guards in the country -- the second leading scorer in the country last year -- to hold him to 16 points on 18 shots, I’m proud of the team effort it took to do that and I’m really proud of X and the energy he had to exert to guard him.”

The Cowboys return to action on Sunday hosting Arkansas- Pine Bluff at 2 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium in a contest on the Mountain West Network.