Cowboys Drop MW Opener at Aztecs, 67-55

Dec. 30, 2015

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It was a rematch of last season’s conference tournament title game, but Wednesday was a different result as San Diego State downed the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team, 67-55, in Viejas Arena. The Cowboys (7-7) were within four points midway through the second half, but the Aztecs (8-6) quickly took the lead back to double digits to win the Mountain West opener for both teams.

“A disappointing start to the game,” UW head coach Larry Shyatt said. “We are down 14 right off the bat. That’s the third time that’s happened and every time we’ve battled back. Nine minutes to go in the game and it’s a four-point game. We chose to go zone and [SDSU’s Jeremy] Hemsley hits two big threes. Very proud to be with this group, but very disappointed that we couldn’t pull it off the last minutes. Winning on the road in conference play is difficult.”

Wyoming topped San Diego State for the MW title last March, but the Aztecs jumped all over the Cowboys early Wednesday to lead by 18 in the first half. The Pokes would battle back to within four at 44-40 midway through the second half, before SDSU responded with back-to-back threes. The Cowboys would cut the lead to nine twice down the stretch, but that would be as close as they could get.

Senior guard Josh Adams broke his streak of three-straight games with 30-plus points by scoring 16 against the Aztecs, his second-lowest output this season. He did add a team-high five rebounds and five assists. Sophomore forward Hayden Dalton had his best game in brown and gold with career highs of 13 points and two blocks to go with four rebounds. Junior guard Jason McManamen added 11 points, including three threes.

Neither team shot well, as Wyoming hit 36 percent (19-of-52) from the field and 26 percent (6-of-23) beyond the arc. SDSU connected on 36 percent (21-of-58) and 20 percent (4-of-20), respectively. The Aztecs outrebounded the Cowboys, 50-26, with a 21-6 advantage in offensive boards to lead 30-20 in points in the paint and 14-5 in second-chance points. UW’s minus 24 rebounding margin was its worst this season, while SDSU’s 21 offensive rebounds were a season high for a Cowboy foe.

It was all Aztecs for most of the first half. Adams hit on Wyoming’s first possession, but the Pokes started cold from the field and missed their first 10 shots from deep. SDSU capitalized to build an 18-point lead at 25-7 midway through the half. The Cowboys hung tough, though, and tightened down on defense to close the opening frame on a 10-5 run and cut the lead to 35-25 at the break.

Wyoming shot just 38 percent (11-of-29) from the field and 15 percent (2-of-13) from deep in the first half, but held SDSU had the same percentages. The Aztecs outrebounded the Pokes, 27-14, though, including 13-4 on the offensive glass. Adams had 13 points in the first half, while Dalton added six.

The Cowboys continue MW play at Nevada on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT.