(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Wyoming Cowboy defense held the Golden Lions of Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 29.8 percent from the field on their way to an 85-45 win on Sunday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. The Poke offense countered by shooting 58 percent from the field, which was the highest since shooting 60 percent against SJSU in the MW Tournament last season.
“Credit to my guys,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “They understood exactly what we needed to do. They’ve understood since last year for us to really compete in the upper half of the Mountain West we had to get a lot better on the defensive end. Having the guys we have on this team, we have the makings of a pretty good defensive team.”
Wyoming has opened the season holding two opponents under 50 points for the first time since the 1981-82 season. The 29.8 percent the Gold Lions shot on Sunday was the lowest under Jeff Linder and lowest since Detroit Mercy shot 28.4 percent on Nov. 19, 2019.
“Defense is where winning lies,” Linder said. “You can’t just be a really good offensive team and be a mediocre or bad defensive team if you expect to win. We have some length, and we have some athleticism that contribute to us being good defensively. To be able to have the depth we have on this team to where guys don’t have to play tired, we can sustain that defensive effort to win in this league.”
Wyoming had five players in double-figures on the afternoon. Forward Graham Ike led Wyoming in scoring with 21 points and a game-high eight rebounds. He was at the line 16 times in the contest. Forward Jeremiah Oden added a career-high 17 points on the afternoon going 7-of-8 from the field. Guard Hunter Maldonado added 16 points with six boards and four assists. Guard Xavier DuSell added 11 points going 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Guard Drake Jeffries added 10 points with three triples.
The Cowboys were dominate on the glass holding a 44-27 advantage. Wyoming tallied 15 points on eight offensive rebounds. Wyoming forced 14 turnovers in the game and scored 16 points off the Golden Lions miscues.
After the Golden Lions built a 4-0 advantage in the opening minutes, Maldonado added a bucket and DuSell added a triple for a 5-4 lead at the 16:48 mark of the contest. Wyoming would hold UAPB scoreless for over six minutes forcing six turnovers to build a 11-4 lead.
The Pokes would go scoreless for nearly three minutes until Ike added a three-point play to build a 14-8 advantage for UW halfway through the half. DuSell would knock down his second triple of the half at the 8:55 mark of the frame for a 18-9 advantage for Wyoming.
Wyoming would go on a 17-0 over five minutes to build a 38-14 lead with 1:36 left in the half. The scoring outburst by the Brown and Gold was paced by five points from Oden and four points from Jeffries and Maldonado. The Golden Lions added eight points to close the half with Maldonado adding a pair of layups with one coming as time expired for a 42-22 lead for Wyoming heading into the break.
The Cowboys opened the second half 3-of-3 from the field to build a 49-26 lead. The Golden Lions were 2-of-7 from the field to open the half, as the Wyoming defense continued to pressure. The Pokes once again held the Gold Lions scoreless this time for just over two minutes for a 54-28 lead.
Wyoming would go on a 9-0 run over two minutes to make it a 63-60 game. Jeffries led the surge with a pair of three pointers. The Pokes would cruise from there and held the Golden Lions to just two points in the final 3:40 of the game on their way to the win.
UAPB was led by Kylen Milton with 17 points, as he went 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Leading scorer Shawn Williams was held to two points in the game.
The Cowboys hit the road for the first time this season heading to PAC-12 foe Washington on Thursday night in a 9 p.m. MT start on the PAC-12 Network.