Maldonado buzzer beater gives Pokes win over Air Force

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Wyoming senior guard Hunter Maldonado vs. Air Force. )University of Wyoming photo)

January 28, 2022 — Wyoming Cowboy guard Hunter Maldonado hit a layup at the buzzer to lift the Cowboys to a 63-61 road win at Air Force this evening in Colorado Springs. For Maldonado, it was his return to his hometown and his 100th career start, as he led the team with 31 points.

The win upped the Pokes record to 5-1 in the Mountain West and 16-3 overall. Air Force falls to 3-5 in the conference and 10-9 on the season.

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“It is never easy on the road, and Air Force played well, and they are hard to guard,” UW head coach Jeff Linder said. “I thought we had a great stretch in the second half. We are going to enjoy this one. I thank all the Cowboy fans for showing up down here and (I’m) proud of the team.”

The Pokes combined for 30 points off turnovers and second-chance points in the victory. UW dominated the glass holding a 35-26 advantage while grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.

Maldonado’s 31 points gave him 17 career 20-plus scoring games. It was also his season-high as he played all 40 minutes of the contest. Graham Ike added 10 points and nine rebounds. Jeremiah Oden scored nine points for the Pokes.

Wyoming led 33-30 at the half and would stretch the lead to 48-38 with ten minutes to play.

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Air Force cut the lead to five points with five minutes left, but Ike added an and-one play for a 58-50 lead with 4:58 remaining. The Falcons would use an offensive board for a basket and a free throw for a four-point game at 59-55 with 2:11 left.

AJ Walker added a three-pointer to cut the Wyoming lead to just one point at 59-58 1:20 left. The Pokes added free throws from Maldonado to make it a 61-58 game with 33 seconds left. But Walker added another three-pointer to tie the contest at 61-61 with nine seconds left.

Then it was all Maldonado who took the ball up the floor and finger-rolled it off the glass for the win at the buzzer.

Wyoming will now host #23 ranked Colorado State (6-1 in the MW/16-1 overall on Monday night. The game is set to tip-off at 6 p.m. Broadcast time will be 5:30 on WyoRadio’s 99.7 JACK-FM and 99SIT.com.