Three Ball Lifts Pokes Past Northern Iowa, 81-73

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LARAMIE, Wyo., (Dec. 3, 2016)The Cowboys hit 16 three-pointers in a 81-73 win over Missouri Valley Conference power Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. The 16 triples are the third most in single game history and the second most in the Arena-Auditorium.  Senior Jason McManamen led the way with six three-pointers on just seven attempts.

McManamen led all scorers with 21 points on the afternoon, shooting 7-of-10 (.700) from the field and 6-of-7 (.857) from beyond the arc. Junior forward Hayden Dalton put in a career-best 19 points on 6-of-8 (.750) shooting, his fourth double-figure game this season. Dalton’s effort contributed to the Cowboys’ bench outscoring UNI’s, 41-27. Junior Alan Herndon scored 12 points for his fourth-straight game in double figures, a new career high. Herndon tied his career high in blocks, swatting away game-high three UNI attempts. Wyoming dished out a season-high 22 assists, led by Dalton with six and redshirt-freshman Cody Kelley with a career-high five. Kelly also logged career highs in points with eight and rebounds with four.

“It was a great team win,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “Jason [McManamen] was the Jason of old with the way he shot the ball, but I thought Hayden Dalton stepped up and played well. His confidence in shooting the ball showed tonight. And Cody Kelly gave us some great minutes off the bench. He really steadied the ship for us in the second half.”

The Panthers entered the game with a top-20 defense in the country, holding opponents to just 58.7 points per game. Wyoming’s 81 points were the most by a UNI opponent this season. Prior to today, the most points given up by the Panthers on the year was 67 points on two occasions. Senior Jeremy Morgan led the visitors with 20 points and four assists. Senior Jordan Ashton recorded the game’s only double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Panthers shot just 37.9 percent (25-of-66) from the field, while the Cowboys drained 54.2 percent (26-of-48) of their attempts.

“Most of my message is on the defensive end of the floor,” Allen said. “I also tell them to take care of the basketball, and there were some turnovers tonight that were more careless and not being assertive. The way we shut them down late in the game, I’ll brag more about that. If we defend and we’re able to shoot the way we shot tonight, I think we can be tough.”

The Pokes jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a three-pointer by Herndon and a hook shot by sophomore forward Jordan Naughton. The Cowboys held the Panthers scoreless for over three minutes to open the game. The Cowboys pushed the tempo from there with a pair of three-pointers to jump out to a 14-5 lead.

Another defensive stand by the Pokes of holding UNI without a basket for nearly four minutes helped UW extend its lead to 20-9 halfway through the stanza. The Panthers battled back to cut the UW lead to 20-18 using a 9-0 run, but that was halted by a three pointer by McManamen.

The Panthers took the lead on a three-pointer by Jordan Ashton that was part of 17-3 run to make it 26-23 in favor of UNI. The Pokes battled back to tie the game at 28-28 with 90 seconds remaining in the half on a McManamen free throw. That would turn out to be the final score at the intermission.

UNI opened the second half on a 10-5 run to make it a 38-33 game in the opening minutes. The Pokes answered with five-straight points and tied the game at 38-38, highlighted by another McManamen triple.

The two teams would battle through a six-minute span, exchanging baskets with neither team able to build a lead. The run included a second three-pointer from Dalton, tying his career scoring high of 13. The stretch would end with three-straight free throws from the visitors, giving Northern Iowa a lead at 56-55 with under 10 minutes remaining in the contest.

The Cowboys battled back using the arc once again. The Pokes used a 19-8 run over six minutes of game time to take a 74-64 with less than two minutes to play. Dalton and Kelley led the charge both from behind the arc and at the free throw line. During the stretch the Pokes held the Panthers scoreless for over four minutes.

Northern Iowa pulled to within six points in the closing moments of the game, but free throws from sophomore Justin James sealed the victory.

The Cowboys host Colorado Christian on Monday evening in the Arena-Auditorium.