LARAMIE – The University of Wyoming men’s basketball team has won two games since 2019 began. And you thought maybe you had a rough start to the New Year.
The Cowboys (6-22 overall, 2-13 Mountain West) return home after a week-long road trip to host Air Force (12-15, 7-8) at 2 p.m. today at the Arena-Auditorium.
UW will play two of its final three regular-season games at home, including the regular-season finale March 9 against New Mexico, sandwiched around a road game Wednesday at San Jose State.
UW had a team meeting following a 71-60 loss Wednesday at Fresno State, and coach Allen Edwards challenged his depleted team to take what’s happened – the Cowboys have lost five consecutive games and 16 of 19 – and turn it into a motivating tool.
“(Edwards) just told us we have to go about being prepared for the game differently and take things more personal,” Cowboys redshirt freshman forward Hunter Thompson said. “We all need to be ready to go when the game starts. That’s a big thing for us down the stretch. We need to more accountable for what we are doing.”
Being more accountable today starts with making sure UW knows where Falcons junior forward Lavelle Scottie is at all times.
Scottie leads Air Force in scoring (15.8 points) and rebounding (5.3 rebounds) and lit up UW for 34 points in the first meeting between the teams, an 81-76 Falcons win.
Scottie was 15 of 20 from the field and 4 of 7 on free throws for his 34 points.
“We let one guy get going early, and he made some big shots for them,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to be more aware on defense where everyone is and not give them easy shots.”
Despite Scottie’s big game, the Cowboys still had their chances against Air Force.
The Falcons led 44-35 at the half and by as many as 15 points early in the second before the Cowboys put together a rally.
UW pulled within five points at 56-51 with 11 minutes, 10 seconds remaining before an 11-0 Air Force run pushed the lead back to 16 points.
The Cowboys made one final run at the Falcons, pulling within 78-75 with 39 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Jake Hendricks. But Air Force made just enough free throws over the final half-minute to seal the win.
UW senior Justin James led the team with 22 points to go with nine assists and eight rebounds in the game.
James starts today’s game 46 points shy of 2,000 for his career. If he hits the mark, he’ll be the third player in Cowboys history to reach the milestone.
Hendricks was 7 of 12 on 3-pointers to score 21 points, and Trace Young added 15 points in the loss.
UW leads the all-time series against Air Force 78-38, including 41-14 at home. … With 27 points Wednesday at Fresno State, James has now scored 1,010 points against MW teams during his career. … Thompson had four blocked shots against Fresno State, the most for the former Pine Bluffs standout, and the most for a UW player since Alan Herndon had five last season.
Scott Nulph is the WyoSports assistant editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-755-3324. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottNulph.