With five of its first seven losses coming by single digits, Wyoming could at least say it’s been competitive this season.
Against ETSU, the Cowboys were anything but.
Wyoming went the first 10 minutes without a basket and never recovered, falling 76-53 to the Buccaneers on Friday in its Sun Bowl Invitational opener. The Cowboys made just one of their first 26 shots inside the Don Haskins Center on the campus of UTEP in its first game back without sophomore guard Hunter Maldonado, joining Savannah State as the only college basketball teams to have one field goal in a half since 1986.
Wyoming (3-8) will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak in Saturday’s consolation game against either UTEP or Norfolk State.
ETSU (9-4) began the game on a 23-1 run and led by as many as 33 points with Wyoming not reaching double digits until Justin James sank two free throws with 12 seconds left in the first half. Jeromy Rodriguez had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds while Paul Good also scored 12 points for the Buccaneers, who shot 47 percent from the field.
Hunter Thompson poured in a career-high 25 points on 8 of 9 shooting and went 7 of 8 from 3-point range. He connected on all of those threes in the second half as Wyoming surged to get within 11 at 59-48 with 7:36 left, but a 43-11 halftime deficit proved far too much to overcome in its most lopsided loss of the season.
The Cowboys set season lows in points, field-goal percentage (30.8) and free-throw percentage (60). James played all 40 minutes and finished just 3 of 21 from the floor for a season-low eight points with six assists and 10 turnovers. Jordan Naughton, who returned from his knee injury to make his regular-season debut, had two points and one rebound in limited minutes for the Cowboys, who were outscored 52-12 in the paint.