Things didn’t get much better for Wyoming on Saturday.
The Cowboys went winless in the Sun Bowl Invitational with a 76-65 loss to UTEP that extended Wyoming’s losing streak to a season-worst three games. Wyoming didn’t get out of UTEP’s Don Haskins Center without another hit to their starting lineup as Jake Hendricks missed most of the second half with a leg injury.
Hendricks, the Cowboys’ third-leading scorer, left with 15 minutes, 30 seconds remaining and never returned. Wyoming (3-9) was already playing without its second-leading scorer in Hunter Maldonado, who’s out for at least the next month with a nerve injury.
"I don’t really want to speak on it until I know more, but we had to put him on crutches and (trainer) Dallas (Fichtner) had to take him in the training room," Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said on postgame radio. "It didn’t look good to be honest with you."
Justin James bounced back from a season-low eight points the previous night against ETSU to lead Wyoming with 22 points. A.J. Banks poured in a career-high 18 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. The duo combined to go 13-for-16 from the free-throw line as Wyoming shot 85 percent (22 of 26) from the charity stripe, but Evan Gilyard helped UTEP (5-6) grab momentum early in the second half that it never relinquished.
The Miners opened up a 17-point lead with a 15-4 run capped by a 3-pointer from Gilyard with 10:26 left and led by as many as 18. Wyoming cut the deficit to nine on a free throw from James with 50 seconds remaining, but the Cowboys, who shot just 38 percent (19 of 50) from the floor, didn’t get any closer.
Gilyard finished 6 of 9 from 3-point range to pace five UTEP players in double figures with 20 points.
Wyoming outrebounded UTEP 34-30 but committed 17 turnovers leading to 18 points for the Miners, who shot 47 percent (27 of 53) from the field.
"I told our guys that let’s just be positive and, at the same time, this is the Christmas season, and we’re living blessed lives," Edwards said. "But praying for the best with that scenario with Jake."