LARAMIE – It seems that these days, the University of Wyoming men’s basketball cold streaks are harsher than Laramie’s winters.
The Cowboys went scoreless for more than 11 minutes of game action Saturday afternoon during a 65-50 loss to Fresno State at Arena-Auditorium.
It was UW’s sixth consecutive loss. The Cowboys remain the only team in the Mountain West without a conference victory, and it is the their second losing streak of six games this season.
Following a pair of tight losses to UNLV and Nevada, UW (5-15 overall, 0-8 Mountain West) felt it was closer than ever to being the team it can be. Saturday’s performance, however, was admittedly a step in reverse.
“It is a little frustrating because we were taking steps,” redshirt sophomore guard Hunter Maldonado said. “(Saturday), we took a step backward.”
Despite 24 combined second-half points from senior guard Jake Hendricks, freshman guard Kwane Marble II and sophomore T.J. Taylor that helped cut the lead down to 10 late in the game, UW shot just 35% from the field overall and scored 16 points in the first half, tied for the team’s third-lowest total of the season.
After trailing by 15 at halftime, Fresno State (6-12, 2-5) started the second half on an 8-0 run and led by as much as 23. UW went the final 7 minutes, 13 seconds of the first half and more than 4 minutes of the second without scoring. While scoring droughts are nothing new for the Cowboys, Saturday’s 11-minute scoreless-streak was among the worst this season.
Of UW’s 19 made field goals, 10 were 3-pointers; it attempted 32 3-pointers compared to 23 attempts from inside the arc and shot just three free throws.
“We were playing catchup. Because we were playing catchup, and some of them playing zone and keeping their rim protectors around the rim, it made it tough,” Cowboys coach Allen Edwards said.
Fresno State started the game 9 of 13 from the field but cooled off significantly as the game progressed, finishing 38% from the field.
The Bulldogs were led by Orlando Robinson and New Williams, who scored 19 points and 16 points, respectively. Fresno State outrebounded UW 44-30.
“I don’t think we worked as hard,” Hendricks said. “That’s why the result was what it was.”
Marble finished tied for the team lead with 12 points, his fourth consecutive game finishing with six points or more. Prior to the Jan. 4 matchup at Colorado State, Marble hadn’t scored a point in four games.
“I’ve just been playing within the system … trusting the process. My teammates have been trusting me,” Marble said. “I’ve just been taking the open shots.”
Nearly halfway through the Mountain West slate of games and still without a conference win, UW travels to Viejas Arena to take on undefeated and No. 7-ranked San Diego State, which defeated the Cowboys by 20 on Jan. 8. It was after the blowout against SDSU that Edwards made a point to his team about how winning teams prepare.
Edwards told his team and staff that the Aztecs are putting in as much work on their own time as they are during designated practices, and that effort shows in their record. And, for at least two games against UNLV and Nevada, it appeared UW had gotten the message clearly. No, the Cowboys didn’t win but, for the first time in a while, they were in position to seize the game. That’s what made Saturday’s defeat to Fresno State so frustrating.
Edwards did say, however, that he isn’t worried about the long-term effect a loss like Saturday’s can have on his team’s overall morale going forward.
“That’s just process for you. I may not like it, they may not like it, but it happens … You take steps forward, take steps forward … you would hope you don’t take steps back,” Edwards said. “When you do, you only can adjust and go back to the drawing board … (we) have to find a way to get back up and dust ourselves off.”
FRESNO STATE 65, WYOMING 50
Fresno State: Robinson 6-8 6-8 19, Grimes 3-9 1-3 7, Williams 5-13 3-5 16, Hyder 1-4 5-6 8, Holland 0-5 2-2 2, Hart 2-5 1-1 6, Campbell 2-3 0-0 4, Blackwell 1-6 0-0 3. Totals: 20-53 18-25 65
Wyoming: Thompson 2-8 0-0 5, Hendricks 4-11 0-0 12, Banks 0-2 0-0 0, Foster 0-3 0-0 0, Maldonado 3-11 0-1 7, Marble 5-10 0-0 12, Taylor 3-5 2-2 8, Milton 0-1 0-0 0, Porter 2-4 0-0 6. Totals: 19-55 2-3 50
Halftime: FSU 31, UW 16. 3-pointers: FSU 7-23 (Williams 3-7, Robinson 1-2, Hart 1-2, Hyder 1-3, Blackwell 1-3, Grimes 0-1, Campbell 0-1, Holland 0-4); UW 10-32 (Hendricks 4-11, Porter 2-3, Marble 2-4, Maldonado 1-4, Thompson 1-6, Banks 0-1, Taylor 0-1, Foster 0-2). Rebounds: FSU 44 (Grimes 12); UW 30 (Maldonado 8). Assists: FSU 8 (Robinson 2, Hyder 2); UW 10 (Maldonado 5). Turnovers: FSU 11 (Williams 3); UW 13 (Thompson 3). Blocks: FSU 6 (Three with 2); UW 3 (Maldonado 2). Steals: FSU 5 (Robinson 3); UW 3 (Hendricks 2). Total fouls: FSU 10; UW 21. Fouled out: UW 1 (Maldonado).