LARAMIE, WY. – A slow start offensively combined with second half turnovers was too much for the Pokes to overcome in a 69-55 loss to Boise State in the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday evening in the Mountain West Opener for both teams. Wyoming drops to 4-10 overall and 0-1 in the conference with the Broncos moving to 6-8 overall and 1-0 in the MW.
The Pokes recorded nine turnovers in the second half and 15 for the game, as Boise State scored a combined 29 points off of those miscues along with second chance points.
“Where I thought we struggled again was turning the basketball over and specifically live ball turnovers, which allowed Boise State to get out in transition,” Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said. “One the big keys heading into this game was not allowing Boise State to get out in transition with the pace we’re trying to play at now. As we prepared for this game there were things we asked our guys to do that they did pretty well. We held Boise to 42 percent shooting and 30 percent from three, which are good defensive numbers.”
Wyoming was led in scoring by freshman Trace Young, as he tied a career-high with 16 points. He went 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Senior Jordan Naughton added 10 points for his second-straight game in double-figures. Senior Justin James added a game-high 14 rebounds and seven points.
“One of the things I complimented Trace (Young) on in front of the team after the game was that when he is out there on the floor he competes,” Edwards said. While he’s out there he plays hard. I’m trying to get some of the other younger players to bring that same type of energy. He is coming into his own a little bit. He is a special talent.”
The Pokes were impressive from the free throw line going 21-of-24 for 88 percent. Wyoming shot 35 percent from the field (14-of-40) with the Broncos going 25-of-59 for 42 percent. Boise State held a slight advantage on the glass 33-30 on the night.
“The other thing that hurt us was rebounding the basketball. I thought their (Boise State’s) big men did a great job of tapping the ball out and giving them second-chance opportunities,” Edwards said. “Credit to them, they were able to come in and get the win. We still have work to do. I’ve always respected Coach (Leon) Rice and the things he does with his program. We have to get back to work, watch film and come up with a game plan to give us the best opportunity to get a win at Vegas on Saturday.”
Both teams started slow offensively with neither team scoring in the opening three minutes of the contest. Boise State got on the board first with a jumper that was answered with triple from Young that was well behind the three point line.
Boise State would build a 15-8 lead on back-to-back threes from Justinian Jessup and Pat Dembley with just under 12 minutes remaining. The Pokes would go scoreless for nearly four minutes until junior A.J. Banks made it a 15-10 contest with a layup with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half. He finished the night with eight points.
The Pokes would cut a seven-point Boise lead down to two-points with 5:16 left in the half for a 21-19 contest. The run was led at the free throw line with four-straight from James and Banks. But the comeback was halted and countered by a 10-0 run by the Broncos for a 12-point lead at 31-19 with just over three minutes remaining in the frame.
The Broncos maintained that momentum to close out the first half taking a 33-22 advantage into the break. Wyoming struggled offensively shooting 29 percent from the field in the first half going 6-of-21 with three of those coming from behind the arc.
The Pokes cut the deficit to eight points on a triple from Young to open up the second frame, but the Broncos pushed the lead to a game-high to that point of the game 15 points for a 42-27 advantage with 16:14 left in the game.
Wyoming recorded four-straight turnovers, but Young added another three pointer to halt the streak and make it a 44-32 game with 12:46 left. Jessup struck again later in the half with his fourth triple of the game to build the lead to 17 points at 51-34 nearly halfway through the half.
Boise State hit four-straight shots and built the lead to as 22-points with seven minutes to play and would take the contest 69-55.
The Broncos were led by Alex Hobbs, as he poured in 17 points to go along with six assists. Jessup finished the night with 14 points with 12 of those coming from behind the three-point line.
Wyoming returns to action on Saturday heading to Las Vegas to take on UNLV for an 8 p.m. MT start on ESPNU.