LARAMIE – After a challenging two-game road trip, the University of Wyoming returned to the Arena-Auditorium on Friday night and delivered a record-setting performance for its home fans.
The Cowboys knocked down 28 3-pointers, tying the most in NCAA history, while senior guard Drake Jeffries set a Mountain West record with 11 made threes during a 108-59 rout of Hastings College.
UW now holds the NCAA record with Troy, who also made 28 threes against George Mason in 1994. However, the Pokes reached this mark in only 54 attempts – 20 fewer than the Trojans.
“We took what the defense gave us,” Wyoming coach Jeff Linder said. “They were packing it in and allowing us to shoot 3s, and when you recruit guys like we do that can make shots, that’s what I expect. We got the right 3s for the most part. We didn’t take any crazy shots. There were one or two I had an issue with, but for the most part, they were paint touch (and) rotation 3s.
“For (Jeffries) ... to have the Mountain West record and school record, it’s a credit to him and a credit to our guys that found him.”
Added Jeffries on setting the MW record: “It means the world. All the work I’ve put in is finally paying off. Every day (I’m) shooting, getting shots up and working with coaches.”
Hastings kept the score close in opening minutes, tying the game 17-17 with 12 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the first half. Senior forward Hunter Thompson and sophomore guards Xavier DuSell and Brendan Wenzel knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 61 seconds, as the Pokes (5-0) proceeded to close the half on a 38-16 run.
UW’s 15 triples in the first half matched the sixth-highest single-game total in program history.
Despite holding a comfortable lead, the Cowboys didn’t slow down during the second half. They out-scored the Broncos by 20 in the first 10 minutes out of the break, with Jeffries connecting on the team’s 21st 3-pointer – breaking a program record set against Utah State in 2016 – with 11:19 remaining.
Jeffries went on to break the MW’s individual record for 3-pointers in a game a few minutes later, with sophomore John Grigsby tying the NCAA mark for a team with 1:54 to go.
“It was a team effort,” DuSell said. “We were just trying to make easy plays, not force anything and take what the defense gave us.”
Jeffries led all scorers with 33 points, followed by DuSell with 20. Thompson and sophomore forward Graham Ike also scored in double figures, adding 15 and 14 points, respectively, with Ike recording 10 rebounds for his second double-double this season.
Hastings was shorthanded throughout the contest, with only seven players available due to COVID-19 protocols. Matthias Nchekwube led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds.
“I want to thank those seven players for Hastings who showed up,” Linder said. “It was unfortunate we didn’t get to see their full team, and that’s just the unfortunate reality with COVID. Not necessarily COVID in their program, but in terms of COVID protocols.
“I get why their coach didn’t want to bring all their guys. For those seven guys to show up and give the effort they did ... credit to those guys.”
Even with their lead swelling to as much as 51 points during the second half, the Cowboys didn’t lose focus. They finished the game with just eight turnovers, two of which occurred in the first 63 seconds, while forcing Hastings to give the ball away 17 times.
“They know that we’re going to play the game the right way, regardless of what the score is,” Linder said. “We’re not going to try to embarrass anybody. We’re going to go out there and try to demoralize them with our discipline and effort, but we’re not going to try to embarrass anybody …
“We’re going to take it one possession at a time, and in a game like that, it really shows where your maturity is at as a team. That’s why I challenged them. A mature team handles this the right way.”
Senior guard Hunter Maldonado was held out Friday with a bruised knee, but is expected back for the Cowboys’ next game. Maldonado played 81 minutes during UW’s road trip to Washington and Grand Canyon.
On a positive note, junior guard Kenny Foster made his first appearance of the season, coming off the bench to finish with two points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 26 minutes. Foster had missed the first four games of the season with a high ankle sprain.
Wyoming will head on the road for its next test, a showdown with Cal State-Fullerton on Monday.
WYOMING 108, HASTINGS COLLEGE 59
Hastings College: Nchekwube 9-20 0-0 19, Kingston 6-9 0-0 14, Valentine 4-9 0-0 11, Corrigan 3-7 1-2 8, Grint 3-8 0-0 7, Lopez 0-2 0-0 0, Wietfield 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 25-57 1-2 59
Wyoming: Jeffries 11-17 0-0 33, DuSell 7-11 0-0 20, Ike 6-10 0-0 14, Oden 3-5 2-2 8, Dut 0-5 0-0 0, Thompson 5-7 0-0 15, Reynolds 2-4 0-0 6, Grigsby 2-4 0-0 5, Wenzel 1-4 0-0 3, Foster 0-3 2-2 2, Nelson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 38-71 4-4 108
Halftime: UW 55, HC 33. 3-pointers: HC 8-22 (Valentine 3-4, Kingston 2-3, Corrigan 1-2, Grint 1-4, Nchekwube 1-6, Lopez 0-1, Wietfield 0-1); UW 28-54 (Jeffries 11-17, DuSell 6-10, Thompson 5-7, Ike 2-2, Reynolds 2-3, Grigsby 1-3, Wenzel 1-3, Oden 0-2, Foster 0-2, Dut 0-5). Rebounds: HC 28 (Nchekwube 7); UW 37 (Ike 10). Assists: HC 11 (Kingston 3, Lopez 3); UW 27 (Dut 7, DuSell 6). Turnovers: HC 17 (Nchekwube 10); UW 8 (DuSell 2, Ike 2). Blocks: HC 1 (Valentine); UW 0. Steals: HC 5 (Corrigan 3); UW 10 (Ike 4). Team fouls: HC 7; UW 10.