Wyoming Sweeps New Mexico On The Hardwood
Lyle was seen in a boot during the New Mexico Football Game on Saturday
Cowboys pick up a pair of win
Forced to play on the hardwood of the Air Force Academy due to COVID restrictions in the state of New Mexico, the Wyoming Cowboys swept the New Mexico Lobos in a two-game series on Wednesday and Friday.
Even though New Mexico may be in last place in the Mountain West, this series was a big confidence booster for the young pokes team. With multiple Cowboys contributing to the victories it really felt like the team was beginning to play their best basketball at times, which should please Wyoming fans as the season begins to wind down into tournament play.
The Cowboys played to their strengths in the series, hitting the open shot, playing stout defense, and, thanks to the presence of freshman Graham Ike, they had the ability to move the ball in the paint at a rate that they hadn’t been able to. The team still made some mistakes that were characteristic of young teams, like allowing the Lobos to get back into the second game of the series after the Cowboys took a large lead into half, but they found the resolve to finish strong and secure a couple of much needed victories.
The Cowboys are going to need confidence-boosting performances like this series as they look toward the conference tournament. Teams like Boise State and San Diego State are both tough teams that aren’t going to let the pokes get an insurmountable lead in the first half, those teams will make the pokes work for it, force them to play to their absolute best. We’ve seen some remarkable play out of these Cowboys before, let’s hope that this series was an indication of what’s to come.
Before we pontificate on what the rest of the season will look like, let’s take a look at how the team did in the two game series.
Game 1: Wyoming 83 – New Mexico 74 F/OT
Game one of the series was a strange one that saw the lead change often and an eventual overtime, and the first half ejection of head coach Jeff Linder. Despite all of this, the Cowboys persevered and were able to win without the guidance of a head coach.
Marcus Williams led the offensive attack for Wyoming, scoring 17 points. Williams was one of six pokes to reach double digit scoring numbers in the game, with Xavier DuSell and Hunter Thompson each scoring 14, while Kwane Marble II and Hunter Maldonado finished the game with 12 and 11 points respectively.
Williams’s heroics would not be enough to claim a Wyoming victory in regulation, as his last second jumper at the close of the second half missed its mark and sent the game to overtime. In overtime the Cowboy defense held the Lobos to just three points, while adding 12 of their own to take the first game of series 83-74.
Game 2: Wyoming 79 – New Mexico 67
Wyoming started the game off on one of the hottest halves of basketball they have played all season, putting up 21 unanswered points to begin the game meant that the team had a little breathing room. The Cowboys defense was stifling, holding New Mexico to just 24 points in the first half.
As good as the first half was, things seemed to fall apart for Wyoming in the second. Failing to build upon their lead, and not able to move the ball in New Mexico’s constricting full court defense, Wyoming allowed the Lobos the claw their way back into the game, going from a 27 point lead in the game at one point, to the Lobos being down by just two in the second half. Despite the Lobos second half surge, Wyoming was able to rally back and score five unanswered points to put the game out of reach.
These two games highlight two facts about this year’s Cowboy team:
1. They have the ability and coaching to be a force in the conference.
2. They are still a young team that makes plenty of mistakes.
Having all the ability in the world won’t save you from yourself. Mistakes happen, especially from young teams, but what made these mistakes not be detrimental, was a great coaching staff that was able to make sure the tools were right there. Having a young team can be frustrating to watch at times, they make mistakes, but the potential that this team has makes me very excited for the future of Cowboy basketball.
Note: This was the first Wyoming season sweep of New Mexico since 2003