Dominate Second Half Lifts Pokes Past DePaul, 72-58

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 A 24-5 run in the second half lifted the Cowboys past Big East foe DePaul 72-58 on Thursday evening in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The Pokes have now won-seven-straight games, the most since winning seven-straight during the 2014-15 season. The Cowboys move to 10-2 on the season.

“My thing this season is the process and play the course,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I wanted an up and down game and I liked the tempo. We settled for some bad shots in the first half. We moved the ball and got better looks in the second half.”

Junior forward Hayden Dalton recorded his third-straight double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. It is the first time since Larry Nance, Jr. in 2013-14 that a UW player has recorded a double-double in three-straight games.

“One thing that Hayden (Dalton) has is his tremendous skill for a player of his size,” Edwards said. “He also plays so hard and creates such a great matchup for us. He gives us great length and skill and plays with such great energy.” 

Junior guard Alexander Aka Gorski added 12 points for his third game in double-figures this season. Sophomore guard Justin James added 13 points for UW and junior forward Alan Herndon added 10 points for the Pokes. 
The Pokes held the Blue Demons to 28 percent from the field for the lowest field goal percentage by an opponent since Colorado shot 28 percent in the Arena-Auditorium in 2013-14. The Pokes grabbed 49 rebounds, the second most this season.

“One of the things we went into the game with was to focus on their scorers,” Edwards said. “Our guys were excited about the job they did on their top two players. We did what we needed for the team to win the basketball game.”

The Cowboys recorded a season-high 22 turnovers. The Pokes bench was solid once again tying a season-high with 45 points. It is the fifth time in the last seven games the bench has scored 40 or more points.

The Pokes got off to a 6-2 lead in the opening minutes. Sophomore forward Jordan Naughton was key in the run with a pair of thunderous dunks. But the early run by the Pokes was erased with a 7-0 run by the Blue Demons to give them a 9-6 lead with 15:10 remaining in the opening half. Tre’Darius McCallum led the run scoring the first seven points of the game for DePaul.

Turnovers haunted the Pokes midway through the opening half, as DePaul capitalized on turnovers scoring seven points and using an 8-0 run to take a 17-8 lead. The Pokes responded a few minutes later using a 7-0 run to make it a 19-16 game. A three pointer in transition by junior guard Jason McManamen highlighted the comeback.

Dalton was fouled on a three-point attempt and after making all three shots the Pokes cut the DePaul lead to two at 21-19 with 7:49 remaining in the half. After struggling for over three minutes without a field goal, McManamen tied the game at 24-24 with his second triple of the night.

Both teams struggled to close the first half from the field with the Pokes going nearly five minutes without a field goal and the Blue Demons going over three minutes without a bucket. But even with both teams struggling from the field the contest was tied at the break, 29-29.

Both teams exchanged runs to open the second half of the game. DePaul opened the frame on a 6-0 spring, but UW responded with a 7-0 run. But the Pokes gained the advantage and never gave it up opening up seven point lead at 45-38 with under 10 minutes remaining in the half with another run this time of 9-0. UW held the Blue Demons scoreless for nearly five minutes.

Aka Gorski got hot for the Pokes extending the lead to 53-40, the largest of the game at that point, as he did it with a pair of three pointers. It capped a 24-5 run over nearly nine minutes to give UW control of the contest.

The Pokes held a lead as high as 15 numerous times in the final 10 minutes of play. The Blue Demons cut the deficit to as little as 10 at 66-56 with under three minutes remaining. The Cowboys didn’t falter taking the contest 72-58.

McCallum led the Blue Demons in scoring on the night with 18 points. Guard Billy Garrett added 17 points for DePaul.

The Pokes play the winner of No. 23 USC and Missouri State tomorrow evening at 9 p.m. MT on FS1.