LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Cowboys erased a 16-point first half deficit to down the Boise State Broncos (13-3, 3-1 MW) 79-78 in overtime on Saturday evening in the Arena-Auditorium. The Pokes shot 67 percent in the second half to improve to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West play. The win was the Pokes largest comeback since defeating UNLV after trailing by 17 points on Jan. 9, 2016 in a contest also in the “Dome of Doom’.
“I’m excited that our guys fought through to the end,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I’m excited that we had a great crowd to support them. We are going to enjoy it for tonight, and then we have to move on and start preparing for our next game.”
The Pokes flipped the script on the Broncos in the second half, outscoring Boise State 43-27 in the second frame after the Broncos led 43-27 at halftime.
“At halftime, I didn’t yell,” Edwards said. “What I said to them was I was just disappointed in our first-half effort, and I think they felt my hurt. We talked about being more assertive and aggressive on defense and on offense, and I thought we had a much better second half because of it.
Wyoming shot 44 percent from the field on the night going 26-of-59. UW held the Broncos to 40 percent from the field, as BSU was shooting 47 percent for the season. The Cowboys scored 23 points off of turnovers for the second most this season.
Junior guard Justin James made history, passing the 1,000-point mark in the second half to become the 36th Cowboy to do so. James finished the night with 15 points, his 12th game in double figures this season, along with a game-high six assists that matched his season high and the most by any Poke this season. Senior forward Hayden Dalton led all scorers with 29 point and added 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Dalton scored the first 10 points of the game for UW. Freshman guard Hunter Maldonado contributed eight points, matching his career high, and knocked down a career-high two triples.
“It is like any other night in that we have different guys step up on different nights,” Edwards said. “Lou had a really good night against Nevada and tonight, because of the team we were playing, Hunter played a key role. We always like to talk about being ready when your number is called. My thing to them is to be ready when the opportunity presents itself.”
The Broncos raced out to a 17-3 lead on the Cowboys in the first seven minutes of the contest. Boise State went on a 12-0 run and held the Pokes scoreless for just over five minutes. Wyoming opened the contest 1-of-12 from the field.
The Pokes cut the lead to single digits at 22-13 with 8:39 left in the first half after back-to-back threes from Dalton and senior guard Alexander Aka Gorski. Dalton scored the first 10 points for the Cowboys going 4-of-6 from the field.
The Broncos would push the lead back to double-digits with under seven minutes left in the half, as the Pokes would get into foul trouble recording their seven foul of the half. Boise State would advance their lead to the largest of the half at 37-21 with 4:19 left in the opening frame.
Boise State took a 43-27 lead into halftime shooting 48 percent from the field and going 9-of-11 from the free throw line. The Pokes were held 26 percent from the field in the first frame going 8-of-31, but did go 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
The Pokes came out of the locker room with energy opening the second half on an 11-0 run to make it a 43-38 contest three minutes into the half. UW opened the frame hitting four of their first five shots and scored six fast break points during the stretch. Four different Cowboys scored during the run.
The Pokes would cut it to four points at 47-43 on a quick 5-0 run with 14:51 left in the game, as the Cowboys were 7-of-10 from the field through the first five minutes of the half. The Pokes tied the game at the 13:14 mark of the half on a Dalton layup, which was a part of a 6-0 run to make it a 49-49 game.
The teams would go back and forth with Boise State enjoying the lead until sophomore guard Cody Kelley gave UW their first lead of the game from the free throw line at the 8:08 mark of the second half making it a 57-56 contest.
The Pokes would build their lead to as many as five points at 62-57, but the Broncos battled back to tie the game at 65-65 with a little over two minutes remaining. BSU would take the lead back on a three from Chandler Hutchison with 1:31 left making it a 68-67 game.
Kelly would tie the game the game with 1:09 left, but Hutchison once again gave BSU the lead on a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining. James tied the game with a layup with 15 seconds left and the UW defense held strong sending the contest to overtime.
Neither team could separate itself in the overtime frame, with BSU grabbing the largest lead at 74-70 less than a minute into extra time. Wyoming responded by finishing the game on a 9-4 run, including a three from Dalton and free throws from Kelley and Adams. The Broncos had one final chance with less than a second left in the game, but Hutchinson’s attempt came up short to give UW the 79-78 win.
Hutchinson led BSU with 27 points, including 14 points at the charity stripe on 20 attempts. Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup led the Broncos with eight rebounds and four assists. UW forced 18 Bronco turnovers, the second most from a Wyoming opponent this season. BSU’s 21 percent shooting from beyond the arc was the lowest since Louisiana shot 15 percent against the Pokes on Nov. 21.
The Pokes will be back in action on Wednesday with a road matchup against New Mexico. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast through Stadium.