Wyoming lost for the fourth time in five games Monday, and that’s the least of the Cowboys’ problems.
An already undersized rotation got even smaller against Boston College in Wyoming’s first game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off in Fort Myers, Florida, and the Eagles took advantage to run away with an 88-76 win at Suncoast Arena. The Cowboys will have to move on from their second straight loss quickly with a consolation game against Richmond awaiting Wednesday.
Already without bigs Jordan Naughton (knee) and Hunter Thompson (concussion protocol), Wyoming was without forward Hunter Maldonado, who watched from the bench in street clothes after back spasms he’s dealt with recently flared up. Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said afterward on postgame radio the Cowboys’ second-leading scorer and rebounder is taking muscle relaxers and will be a game-time decision for Richmond, an 82-66 loser to Loyola-Chicago in the tournament’s opening game.
“It’s got to be something if he’s not playing,” Edwards said. “He’s a tough kid that wants to get out there and compete.”
Not even a furious rally was enough to overcome the attrition against their second Power Five opponent of the season.
Leaning on the hot hand of Ky Bowman, Boston College (3-1) led by as many as 22 in the second half before Wyoming began chipping away. The Cowboys (1-4), who got a season-high 27 points from Justin James and 22 points from Jake Hendricks, made six of eight shots from the field at one point and trimmed the Eagles’ lead to three on TJ Taylor’s old-fashioned 3-point play with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left.
But Bowman answered with a 3-pointer on Boston College’s next possession, and Wyoming didn’t get any closer. The Eagles will meet Loyola-Chicago in the tournament championship game Wednesday night.
“One of the things I shared with them after the game was I thought we took a step in terms of how hard (we played), particularly in the second half, to cut it to three,” Edwards said. “I told them let’s not be happy at the end of the day, but let’s be encouraged that if we continue to play with that effort on both ends of the floor, we’ll have a chance.”
Bowman poured in a career-high 38 points on 14 of 22 shooting. The junior guard, who came in shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range, finished 7 of 12 from deep and had seven rebounds and three assists. Johncarlos Reyes went 6 of 7 from the field to add 15 points for the Eagles, who shot 48 percent from the field.
Boston College also scored 20 points off 13 Wyoming turnovers and used its advantage in the frontcourt to outrebound the Cowboys 41-31. Fifteen of those came on the offensive end as the Eagles scored 16 second-chance points.
James scored 18 of his points after halftime and pulled down nine rebounds but finished just 11 of 18 from the free-throw line. Taylor chipped in 11 points and six boards.
The Cowboys hung around early behind some hot shooting from Hendricks, who started 3 of 4 from 3-point range on his way to 13 first-half points. A pair of free throws from Hendricks gave Wyoming a 20-17 lead with 11:34 left in the first half.
But Bowman was even hotter and sparked a 16-0 run for Boston College that put the Eagles in control.
Bowman scored all but two of Boston College’s points during the spurt, including a trio of 3s. Bowman had 22 points in the first half, quickly surpassing his season average of 19.2 points.
Boston College continued to feast on Wyoming’s undermanned zone defense, working the middle of it when the Cowboys extended on Bowman and the rest of the Eagles’ shooters. Boston College stretched its lead to as many as 18 and led 48-32 at the break as Wyoming went more than 6 minutes without a field goal late in the half.