Laramie, WY – The Wyoming Cowboy basketball team fell 76-66 to UC Santa Barbara last night at home in the season opener for both teams. Senior Justin James led the Pokes with 20 points and 11 rebounds. It was his eighth career double-double.
“I thought the guys played gritty,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “We had opportunities, but at the point where we had just a one-point deficit and we missed a free throw to tie it, after that we started gambling rather than continuing to play solid.”
James did most of his damage in the second half with 17 points. He passed Marcus Bailey for 18th in career scoring, as he now has 1,375 points. James also added a team-high four assists and went 10-of-14 from the free throw line.
“What I love about J.J. is while we know his ability to play against anyone, I like the way he has believed in this process with these new guys,” Edwards said. “Obviously it was a blow losing (Hunter) Thompson in the middle, but I thought J.J. did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He also led us in assists with four. He didn’t shoot it particularly well tonight, especially from three. But he’s special.”
Redshirt freshman, Big Piney, Wyoming native, Hunter Thompson added 10 points in his first career game for Wyoming. He was 4-of-6 from the field on the night before leaving the game in the second half with an injury. Sophomore Hunter Maldonado added 12 points with senior Nyaires Redding finishing his night with nine points. Junior Jake Hendricks added eight points and two assists off the Cowboy bench.
Poor shooting hurt the Pokes as they shot 36 percent from the field going. Wyoming was colder from beyond the 3-point line going just 5-of-29, 17 percent.
The Cowboys return to action on Saturday heading to Pac-12 foe Oregon State for a Saturday afternoon game. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on WyoRadio’s 99.7 JACK-FM beginning at 12;30 p.m.