Cowboys shut down Grand Canyon on the road, 68-61
* University of Wyoming athletics media relations release
PHOENIX --The Wyoming Cowboys earned their second road win of the season on Monday downing defending Western Athletic Conference Champion Grandon Canyon by a score of 68-61 inside Grand Canyon Arena in Phoenix, Ariz.
Wyoming held the Lopes to 29.7 percent from the field and closed the game on an 8-0 run in the final 2:33 of the game to move to 4-0 on the season.
“Probably right now if you look at field goal percentage defense, we are probably the number-one team in the country,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. To sit there and hold that team to the percentage and speaks to the guys and it was everybody collectively. The last four minutes we got some big stops and I challenged them to make some winning plays and we found a way to close it out.”
The 29.7 percent was a season low for an opponent, as Wyoming has held the opposition to under 31 percent from the field in every game this season. Grand Canyon grabbed 51 rebounds with 22 offensive boards, but were held to 22 points in the paint with the Pokes recording 34 points in the paint.
“The thing we talk about is falling back on our training,” Linder said. “You have to stick to fundamentals, and we have a lot of maturity and character. I’m excited for the guys in that locker room.”
Wyoming was led guard Hunter Maldonado added 17 points for his 62nd career game in double figures. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists. Guard Brendan Wenzel added a career-high eight points. Forward Graham Ike added 13 points and six rebounds, as he has scored in double-figures in all four games. Forward Jeremiah Oden added 12 points and five rebounds. He had three dunks on the night.
Both offenses got off to a slow start as the contest was a stalemate through the first four minutes at 4-4. Wyoming did hold CGU to 2-of-8 from the field though but started 2-of-5 from the field with a turnover offensively.
Ike would score eight of the first 10 points for the Pokes to give Wyoming a 10-9 lead nearly halfway through the half. Grand Canyon would get pair of buckets to take a 13-12 advantage on the Pokes until Maldonado added his first bucket of the game to halt the run. Oden would hit a three-pointer in transition to give Wyoming a 15-13 lead with 7:48 left in the half.
Wenzel would add a three-pointer followed by a layup from guard Drake Jeffries and a free throw from Ike and a three from Jeffries for an 14-0 run to build a 24-13 lead with just over five minutes left in the opening frame.
The Pokes held Grand Canyon scoreless for over six minutes until a three pointer by Jovan Blacksher for a 24-16 UW lead with three minutes left in the half. Blacksher would add a jumper, but Oden finished the half with a two-handed slam for a 26-18 lead for the Brown and Gold into the half, as his bucket ended a five-minute scoreless drought.
Wyoming opened the second half on a 5-0 thanks to a three-pointer from guard Xavier DuSell and a layup from Maldonado. GCU added a trio of free throws, but Oden followed it up with yet another slam to give Wyoming a 33-21 lead with 16:52 left in the game.
GCU went on a 5-0 run led by a triple and a transition slam to make it a seven-point contest at 25-28 more than a minute later. Blacksher Jr. would make it a four-point game with a layup and freebies for a 37-33 game with 13:08 left.
Wenzel would bury a corner three-pointer to give Wyoming a six-point advantage at 41-35, but GCU answered right back with a triple of their own. Grand Canyon tied the contest at 42-42 with a pair of free throws at the 10:58 mark of the contest.
Gabe McGlothan hit a three-pointer to give Grand Canyon the 45-44 lead halfway through the frame. GCU would hit a three-pointer to take a three-point lead, but Maldonado tied the contest with a and-one play for a 52-52 game with 7:30 left.
Sean Miller-Moore would add a slam followed by a free throw the following trip down the floor to give GCU a 57-54 lead with under five minutes left. But the Pokes tied it at 58-58 on an Oden layup with 3:37 left in the contest.
Jeffries would hit a big three-pointer to give Wyoming a 63-61 lead with 2:15 on the clock. Maldonado would hit a key layup for a 65-61 lead and a fast break slam from DuSell highlighted the finish and that is all the Pokes needed for a 68-61 win.
GCU was led by Blacksher with 20 points on the night. McGlothan added 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
The Cowboys return to action on Friday hosting Hastings College in the Arena-Auditorium for a 7 p.m. start.
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