The Cowboys closed the regular season with a thrilling 68-64 overtime win over Fresno State in the Arena-Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Hunter Maldonado sent the game to overtime with a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining in regulations and the senior added five points in overtime to improve the Cowboys to 24-7 overall and 13-5 in the Mountain West.
The 24 regular season wins is the most in regular season since 25 during 1951-52 season.
“Our guys knew this was a must win game,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “We needed this win to put ourselves in the best position possible moving toward Vegas and the Mountain West Tournament.
“To win the way we did today, hopefully allowed us to get some of our mojo back and get our energy back. This was a great game for our seniors, Hunter Thompson especially, to see the Wyoming native step in when Graham (Ike) fouled out and make the huge winning play in overtime, drawing that charge — I am so happy for him.”
The Pokes went on 7-0 run in overtime in which Jeremiah Oden hit a three pointer and Maldonado added a pair of buckets to lift the Pokes to the win. Fellow senior Hunter Thompson took a charge and senior Drake Jeffries made it a four-point game, as the trio was honored before the contest.
Xavier DuSell led the Pokes with 21 points on the night knocking down five three pointers. Graham Ike added 16 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Jeremiah Oden scored 14 points and hit a career-high four three pointers. Maldonado added 10 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds. He is four assists away from passing Sean Dent for the all-time assists lead at Wyoming.
The Pokes scored 20 points off turnovers in the contest tying a season high. Wyoming shot 39 percent from the field but hit 11 three pointers in the contest with eight in the first half. Fresno State shot 48 percent from the field and held a 33-32 advantage on the glass.
After DuSell opened the scoring with a three-pointer, Fresno State went on a 5-0 run to take a 5-3 lead ninety seconds into the contest. But DuSell added two more threes and gave Wyoming a 9-7 lead at the 17:05 mark. But the Bulldogs responded with another 8-0 run to take a 15-11 lead three minutes later.
The Bulldogs added a slam for a 19-14 lead at the 11:30 mark, as Fresno State hit 5-of-7 field goals. The Pokes added free throws from DuSell and a jumper from Ike to make it a 19-18 game for the Bulldogs halfway through the half.
A triple from DuSell and jumper from Ike gave Wyoming a 23-21 lead with 8:01 remaining in first frame. After another DuSell triple, both teams went scoreless for three minutes until Oden added a three for a 29-23 game with four minutes left in the half.
Oden pushed the lead to nine points but added a triple and dunk from Orlando Robinson of Fresno State made it a 32-28 game for the Pokes at the half. The Pokes were held to only two points in the paint but were 8-of-16 from behind the arc.
The Bulldogs opened the second half on a 5-0 run to take a 33-32 lead, but Ike added a layup and a pair of free throws to make it a 36-33 game with 16:24 remaining. Ike and DuSell added buckets with a triple from Drake Jeffries and Wyoming held Fresno State scoreless for nearly four minutes making it a 43-33 contest with 13 minutes left.
The Pokes would go scoreless for over four minutes, as the Bulldogs would take the lead down to five points at 43-38 with nine minutes left in the contest. But Ike added a bucket and Oden added a triple as the shot clock expired for a 48-38 lead for the Pokes with 7:04 left in the game.
The Poke run was answered with a 5-0 run that was ended with an Oden highlight reel slam for a 50-43 contest with just over five minutes to play. The Bulldogs cut the lead to two points at 50-48 with 3:16 left, as Wyoming went scoreless for two and a half minutes. Ike added two freebies to push the lead back to four with 2:58 left.
Isaiah Hill add a bucket and Robinson added free throws after being fouled to tie the contest at 52-52 with 1:57 remaining. Maldonado added an and-one play for a 55-52 game with 1:35 left. Robinson added free throws seconds later to make it a one-point game at 55-54.
Maldonado would miss a pair of free throws and Robinson would add a bucket to make it a 56-55 game for Fresno State with 37 remaining. The Pokes had an open look from three but missed with Fresno State getting the ball and hitting a free throw for a 57-55 game with six seconds left. Maldonado raced down the floor and was fouled hitting both free throws with 0.2 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Missed free throws was the story of the first two plus minutes of overtime, but the Pokes earned a 58-57 advantage on a Maldonado freebie. But Robinson gave the Bulldogs the lead until a triple from Oden made it a 61-59 game for the Pokes with 1:49 left in overtime. Maldonado added a bucket for a 63-59 contest with one minute left.
Maldonado made it a six-point game with a layup, but Robinson hit a three pointer for a 65-62 game with 17 seconds remaining. Jeffries would hit a free throw, but Hill raced down the floor and made a basket for a 66-64 game with seven seconds remaining,
DuSell hit a pair of free throws and the Pokes would go on to win the contest 68-64.
The Bulldogs were led by Robinson added 34 points and nine rebounds. Anthony Holland added 11 points in the contest.