Wyoming Cowboys fall to sharp-shooting Fresno State, 71-60

(UW Athletics release)

FRESNO, Calif. – The Wyoming Cowboys ran into one of the nation’s top three-point shooting teams in Fresno State falling on the road on Wednesday evening 71-60 in the Save Mart Center. The Bulldogs connected on 12 three-pointers for the night, as Fresno State came into the contest ranking No. 13 in the nation in triples per game.

“I said to our guys after the game we had an opportunity to cut the lead to four and put ourselves in a great position, but we missed a key three-point opportunity and Fresno State continued to crash the boards,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “Looking at the stats, we had a great chance. But if you go deeper into stats it was Fresno State’s ability to rebound and get more attempts at the rim.”

Senior Justin James passed Eric Leckner for fourth all-time in scoring and now has 1,954. He also surpassed 1,000 career points in conference games. He finished his night with 27 points and added 10 rebounds and six assists. James has now scored 20 or more points in 19 games this season and 46 in his career. James added his eighth double-double of the season and the 15th of his career.

“I guess the beauty of Justin James is he has a knack to finds the basket and continues to get things done for us,” Edwards said. “He is a special player both on the floor and off the floor.”

Freshman Trace Young added 10 points for his sixth game in double-figures this season. He finished the night with a trio of three pointers. Freshman Brandon Porter tied a career-high with 10 points and added four rebounds. Redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson added four blocks on the night for a career best.

The Cowboys finished the night 22-of-52 from the field for 42 percent. The Bulldogs were held to 37 percent from the field nearly eight point below their season average. The Bulldogs held the advantage on the glass 41-33.The Bulldogs had 15 offensive boards.

The Bulldogs got out to a 10-5 advantage on the Pokes, as Nate Grimes was the difference in the middle with four-straight points to push Fresno State ahead. But the Bulldogs missed six-straight field goal attempts, as the Pokes made it an 11-10 contest for Wyoming with 12:23 left in the frame.

Braxton Huggins of Fresno State would make back-to-back threes to give the Bulldogs a 16-11 lead nearly halfway through the half. The Pokes would later battle back thanks to James and a pair of triples from Young to tie the contest at 23-23 with 6:44 left in the frame.

Fresno State would go on an 8-0 run to build a 31-23 advantage holding Wyoming scoreless for over three minutes. The Pokes made it a 33-29 contest thanks to a jumper from James and a fast break layup from Porter off a steal with 1:48 left in the opening frame.

The Bulldogs would close the half on a 5-0 run to take a 38-29 lead into halftime. The Pokes shot 41 percent from the field and held the Bulldogs to 38 percent in the first 20 minutes. Fresno State’s damage came from behind the arc hitting seven three pointers.

After Trevon “TJ” Taylor opened the second frame with a three-pointer, the Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run to build a double-digit advantage 43-32. James would go on a 4-0 run himself to make it a 43-36 contest with 16:22 left.

A scoring drought of over three minutes and turnovers by the Cowboys allowed the Bulldogs to build a 50-39 advantage nearly halfway through the second frame. The Pokes would make it a seven point game with another Young three ball for a 50-43 contest with 9:54 left, but another scoreless drought by the Pokes lasting nearly four minutes helped the Bulldogs build a 59-43 lead with six minutes left.

James would reach the 20-point mark and make it a 10 point game, but the Bulldogs would not hold back taking the contest 71-60.

The Bulldogs were led in scoring by Braxton Huggins with 30 points. One of the top scorers in the Mountain West, he went 9-of-21 from behind the arc. Grimes added 15 points and 14 rebounds on the night for a double-double.

The Cowboys return to action on Saturday hosting Air Force at 4 p.m. on AT&T SportsNet. Tickets are available to Saturday’s game by: going online at GoWyo.com/tickets, emailingtickets@uwyo.edu, calling 307-766-7220 or stopping by the UW Athletics Ticket Office on the west side of the Arena-Auditorium. A special offer for the Air Force contest features lower bowl $15 tickets for adults and $7 tickets for children ages 3-12.

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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