Cowboys Fall to Lobos in First Round of Mountain West Championships
Senior Justin James had a game-high 31 points, the third time this season he eclipsed the 30-point barrier. James moved into fourth place all-time in scoring in the Mountain West with 2,061 points, passing former Fresno State Bulldog Marvelle Harris. James also moved into third all-time at Wyoming, passing Flynn Robertson.
James had a team-high seven rebounds and tied junior AJ Banks for the team lead with four assists.
Senior Jordan Naughton added 10 points, reaching double-digit scoring for the fifth time this season. Junior Jake Hendricks scored nine points, all coming from beyond the three-point line.
Both offenses got out to a slow start in the opening four minutes of the contest. James led the Pokes to an early 7-4 lead with five points and added an assists on a bucket from Banks that opened the contest.
Hendricks helped extended the Pokes lead to six points at 12-6 with 14:18 left in the first half. His basket was following a sweet low post move by redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson for his first basket of the contest.
James hit an NBA range three with 11:06 left in the half to push the Wyoming lead to 11 points at 19-8. To that point of the ball game, the Pokes held the Lobos to 15 percent from the field going 2-of-13. The Pokes would build the advantage to 26-11 on yet another James three, as he was fouled and added a free throw.
The Lobos followed with an 8-3 run to make it a 29-19 game with 7:20 left in the first frame. It was led by New Mexico’s first three pointers of the game. New Mexico would cut it to as little as seven points, but a three from Hendricks a pair of freebies from Banks would give UW a 34-22 advantage with 4:19 left in the frame.
Wyoming would hold the Lobos scoreless for 4:20 and push an advantage to 16 points at 38-22. The Pokes would ride that momentum into half time for an 11-point lead at 38-27.
The Lobos opened the second half forcing three turnovers and cutting into the Pokes lead. New Mexico made it a six point game at 40-34. But Banks and James helped push the lead back to 13-points with a 7-0 run to make it a 47-24 lead for the Pokes with under 15 minutes remaining.
The Lobos would hold the Cowboys scoreless for over five minutes and went on a 15-0 run to take a 49-47 lead with just under ten minutes remaining. The Lobos went five of six from the field during that stretch of play.
After James tied the game at 49-49 with his 21st point of the game, passing Flynn Robinson for third in UW history, the Lobos would go on a 5-0 run to build a 54-49 advantage. The Pokes would cut the deficit to three points twice, but an and-one from Keith McGee made it a 61-55 game with 5:29 left.
The Pokes would four of five attempts and made it a one-point game at 62-61 with 3:24 left, as Naughton slammed home a dunk. But a 6-0 run by New Mexico led by a pair of dunks lifted the Lobos to the 78-68 win.
The Lobos were led by Vance Jackson with 26 points and eight rebounds, while Makuach Maluach scored 13, Keith McGee scored 12 and Carlton Bragg added 10 points.