LARAMIE – It was another painful loss for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team – literally and figuratively.
The Cowboys shot just 38 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers in a 76-65 loss to Texas-El Paso in the third-place game of the Sun Bowl Invitational Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.
UW (3-9) lost its third straight game – its longest losing streak of the season – and has lost five of its last six. The Cowboys entered the game with only eight players, and ended it with seven as junior guard Jake Hendricks left early in the second half with what appeared to be a right knee injury.
Hendricks, who has started in 10 of 12 games this season, averages 12.5 points prior to this game. Hendricks didn’t score against UTEP and attempted only two shots.
Third-year UW coach Allen Edwards didn’t have an update on Hendricks’ status during his postgame radio interview on the Cowboy Sports Network, but said, “it didn’t look good.”
UW jumped out to a 7-1 lead, and the game was tied 15-15 with 13 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half. The Cowboys made only three baskets the rest of the half. They trailed by as many as 11, but thanks to going 11 of 12 from the free-throw line UW trailed only 35-27 at halftime.
UW had nine first-half turnovers and shot 33.3 percent (7 of 21).
The Cowboys trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, but cut the lead to 69-60 with 2:24 to play after a basket by junior guard A.J. Banks. UW made only one basket the rest of the game, and freshman guard Jordan Lathon scored UTEP’s final seven points.
Banks finished with 18 points, eight rebounds three assists and three steals – all career highs. Senior guard Justin James had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but was 6 of 17 from the field and had seven turnovers.
UTEP had five players score in double figures, led by sophomore guard Evan Gilyard’s 20 points. Gilyard was 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and four came in the second half.
UTEP was 12 of 27 from 3-point range, and five different players made at least one 3.
One positive for UW was its rebounding. It outrebounded UTEP 34-30, including 10-7 on the offensive glass.
UW will play its final nonconference game of the season at 4 p.m. Saturday against Division II Dixie State at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
UW is just 3-28 all-time against UTEP in El Paso. … Prior to this game, the last time the two teams played was exactly 10 years ago in this same event, a 79-73 UTEP victory in 2008. … UW is 2-9 when trailing at halftime this season, and has led at halftime only once this season. … The Cowboys committed 40 turnovers in their two games in El Paso. … True freshman guard Tariq Johnson played a career-high 23 minutes for UW, and had a career-best five points.