(UW Athletics release)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – Sophomore Hunter Maldonado, senior Jordan Naughton and senior Nyaires Redding combined for 35 points to lead the Cowboys past Colorado Christian 72-69 in the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie on Thursday evening. In what was the Pokes’ only exhibition game of the season, Wyoming forced 17 turnovers on the night including five shot clock violations.
“This was an opportunity for me to solidify some thoughts and answer some questions about some guys who I still need to make decisions on whether they can help us this year or whether we will consider redshirting them,” Edwards said. “There was a method within what we did tonight. I wanted some of our young guys to have to go through this tonight and understand the kind of competition that is coming their way.
Maldonado added a game-high 10 rebounds to record what would be his first career double-double. He scored all 13 points in the second half. Naughton did his damage offensively by going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. He scored his 10 points in only eight minutes of action. Redding got his points at the free throw line going 8-of-12. He also added four rebounds and a team-high four assists.
“Hunter (Maldonado) is such a solid player,” Edwards said. “He didn’t shoot it great, but what I love about him he has bought in since day one of his freshman year to what we are doing, and I’ve tried to get some of the younger guys to look at Hunter (Maldonado) as an example. Like today, the way he got out there and got 10 rebounds, nine on the defensive end. He not only sets an example when he’s talking to our young guys at practice, but he also goes out and gets it done on the court. I thought it was great for him.”
Redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson and freshman Brandon Porter each added 10 points. Thompson was 3-of-5 from the field, as Porter was 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
“With (Hunter) Thompson, I believe he is going to be good, but it’s not going to happen all at once. Other than getting in foul trouble, I thought he was very comfortable on the floor whether in the post or out on the perimeter. I thought he did a great job of moving his feet on defense.
Preseason All-Mountain West selection Justin James along with junior college transfers A.J. Banks and Jake Hendricks did not play for the Cowboys in the contest.
“We had a few guys out and not playing, but I know what I have with those guys,” Edwards said. “J.J. (Justin James)) wanted to play, but I didn’t want to chance it in an exhibition. Jake Hendricks couldn’t play because of his hand. A.J. (Banks) was another guy we held out”
The Pokes shot 45 percent from the field for the night including 57 percent in the second half. The Cougars shot 43 percent from the field, but went 12-of-28 for 43 percent from behind the three-point line. Colorado Christian also held a 43-32 advantage in rebounding on the night.
Naughton scored the first four points for the Cowboys in the contest, as the vet gave the Pokes a 4-3 lead early in the contest. But the three ball lifted the Cougars to a 9-4 lead, as Jeremiah Hanson hit two-straight triples for CCU.
The Cougars continued to hold the advantage until a three-pointer from Porter with 8:17 left in the half gave UW a 14-13 lead. The Pokes struggled from the field to that point going 4-of-16 for 25 percent.
Redding would later give the Pokes a 22-19 lead with 4:30 left in the first half, as the guard crossed the defender over and took it to the paint for an and-one play.
The Cougars went on a 7-0 run in the closing minutes of the stanza to take a 26-22 lead on the Pokes. Wyoming went just over four minutes without scoring during the Colorado Christian run. CCU took a 26-24 lead into the half, as the Pokes shot 7-of-23 from the field for 30 percent in the period.
The Cowboys open the second half with a strong defensive showing forcing two shot clock violations and a travel, as a pair of buckets by Maldonado gave Wyoming a 30-28 lead to open the half. The Pokes would later expand that lead to five-points at 39-34 with 12:55 left in the half. Wyoming used a three-pointer from Tariq Johnson and jumper from Austin Mueller to spark the run.
The Cougars took the lead back thanks to back-to-back buckets from Braxton Tucker with under 10 minutes left to make it a 43-42 contest. That lead was short lived after an and-one play by Maldonado gave Wyoming the lead back at 45-43.
After the bucket from Maldonado, the Pokes added nine more points to extend the lead to 54-43. Porter sparked the run with an assist on a Thompson basket and a three pointer. Freshman Trevon “TJ” Taylor and Naughton also added buckets during the run.
The Cougars would cut the Pokes’ lead to five points with under five minutes remaining, but a three pointer from Maldonado and a steal and fast break finish by Porter extended the lead back to double digits.
Colorado Christian did not quit hitting back-to-back three to make it a 65-59 game with a minute remaining. Hanson added another three for a 66-62 game with 39 seconds left. Then CCU’s Collin Huun hit yet another three pointer for a 71-69 contest with eight seconds, but Colorado Christian missed a chance to tie the game after a Redding free throw, as UW took the game 72-69.
The Cougars were led by Hanson with a game-high 18 points. He went 4-of-8 from the three-point line. Justin Engesser also added a 4-of-8 stat line from behind the arc and added a team-high nine rebounds.
The Cowboys open the regular season against UC Santa Barbara next Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium in a contest that can be seen on AT&T SportsNet.