Sophomore guard Justin James scored 22 points and senior guard Jason McManamen added 17 points in Wyoming’s 82-71 win over New Mexico on Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys (17-12, 7-9 MW) hit 14 threes in the contest, as New Mexico (16-13, 9-8 MW) hit only three shots from behind the arc.
“I have a lot of respect for New Mexico as a team and for their coaching staff, and we knew nothing was safe until the clock was at zero,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I did think our guys showed some growth today to be able to withstand New Mexico’s runs. We were able to continue to score the basketball and get timely stops when we needed them.”
James has now scored 20 or more points in eight games this season. He also added a team-high 10 rebounds recording his first double-double of the season and the 14 of the season for UW. McManamen hit four three pointers on the night and has 192 in his career only one shy of Brandon Ewing’s school record of 193.
“J.J. (Justin James) did a nice job today, both driving the ball and hitting perimeter shots,” Edwards said. “He grabbed 10 rebounds and had four assists to go with his 22 points. Jason (McManamen) had a good day shooting the basketball and also handed out four assists. We did a good job of sharing the basketball today.”
Junior forward Hayden Dalton added 11 points off the bench, as UW’s bench scored 42 points on the night and surpassed 1,000 for the season. Junior forward Alan Herndon added 10 points for his 21st game in double-figures this season. UW had four players score in double-figures for the 13th time this season. Junior guard Jeremy Lieberman recorded a career-high five steals.,
The Cowboys shot 49 percent from the field and held the Lobos to 39.7 percent, which is the 13th time this season UW has held an opponent to under 40 percent from the field. The Cowboys shot 48 percent from behind the arc on the night going 14-of-29. UW has now hit double-digit threes in six-straight games.
“One of the things we talked about as we prepared for this game was trying to make Elijah Brown guard on the defensive end of the floor, so within our offense, whoever he was guarding for us, that was the guy we had running to make him (Brown) run as much as we could on defense” Edwards said. “Hopefully, that did pay off us when New Mexico had the ball, as he wasn’t able to hit a three today.”
The Cowboys got out to an early 9-0 lead, which also saw UW hold the Lobos scoreless for four minutes to open the game. Junior forward Jonathan Barnes paced the start with a three-point play and a block in his second start of the season.
New Mexico held the Cowboys scoreless for three minutes and used an 8-0 run to make it a 9-8 game with 13:27 left in the opening half. The Cowboys expanded their lead to four at 14-10 on a three pointer by Alexander Aka Gorski at the 10:01 mark of the half, as it was the first three of the game by either team.
New Mexico tied the game at 19-19 on a layup by Anthony Mathis at the 7:16 mark of the frame and took their first lead at 21-19 on a jumper by Jordan Hunter the following possession. The Cowboys battled back to tie the game at 30-30 on a pair of three’s from McManamen, as he passed Josh Adams (189) in career three pointers.
The Cowboys closed the half with a 6-0 run on two triples with on from James and Lieberman to take a 38-31 lead into the half. The Cowboys hit seven triples in the first half and have hit 42 in the opening stanza in the last six games.
After New Mexico opened the half on a 6-2 run to cut the UW lead to three points, James scored seven straight points to give UW a 45-39 lead. McManamen hit another three pointer and a fast break layup by Dalton gave UW an 11 point lead at 52-41 five minutes into the second frame.
After the Lobos cut the UW lead to seven points in back-to-back possessions, Wyoming expanded the lead to 13 points with back-to-back three pointers by Herndon and Aka Gorski to make it a 62-49 game with 10:31 left in the contest.
Back-to-back triples by Mathis cut the Pokes lead to 64-59 with 8:27 left and later cut it to four points at 67-63 on a layup from Elijah Brown two minutes later. MacDougal cut the lead to two at 70-68 with a free throw with under five minutes remaining, but a three pointer from James and layup by McManamen pushed the contest to 75-78 with 3:33 left.
McManamen pushed the lead to 10 points at 78-68 on a three pointer, as he scored eight points in a little over two and a half minutes. Lieberman all but sealed the game with a three pointer from the corner to give UW an 11 point lead with under a minute remaining.
The Lobos were led in scoring by forward Conner MacDougall, as he added 17 points off the bench. Guard Sam Longwood added a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Cowboys head to Colorado State on Tuesday for the second “Border War” of the season. The game is set for an 8 p.m. start on ROOT SPORTS.
(The content of this story was provided by the University of Wyoming Athletics Media Relations Department)