LAS VEGAS – The underdog Cowboys made an early statement, but could not finish off New Mexico in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday.
Wyoming led by as many as
The Cowboys led by as many as 16 points, and had an 11-point lead at half time, but New Mexico finished strong, avernging a loss to the Cowboys in Laramie last Saturday.
“In the first half we played some of our best basketball, defending, also rebounding the basketball, even within their pressure,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said. “In the second half I thought, again, some self-inflicted wounds. I thought we got a little bit careless with the basketball and wasn't assertive, in a sense of trying to attack their pressure but also being smart on the other end after taking it and getting it across half court. And then I thought they kind of wore us down a little bit.”
New Mexico’s comeback-effort was spurred by sophomore forward Vance Jackson.
Jackson finished with a team-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists. 21 of
Jackson’s 26 points came in the second half, including 13-consecutive points as New
Mexico went on a 15-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 49-47 with 9:43 left in
New Mexico’s 51-point second half was the fifth-most points scored in a half in tournament history.
New Mexico’s Anthony Mathis set the school record for 3-pointers in a single season with his first-half 3-pointer. Mathis now has 103 3-pointers on the year, besting the 102 3-pointers from Kevin Henry in the 1998-99 season. The 103 3-pointers are the fifth-most in Mountain West single-season history.
“I feel like in the second half it was kind of like a panic because they were making shots,” said Cowboys senior guard Justin James.“So that's on me, just having the ball in my hands dictating the pace and just making the right shots. But they did a good job. All credit to them. That's a hell of a basketball team.”
James scored a game-high 31 points with seven rebounds and four assists. It was
the third 30-point game of the season for James.
James finished with the second-most points in Wyoming single-season history with 705, trailing only the 740 points from Josh Adams in 2015-16. James also finished sixth in the school’s single-season assist record book with 143 assists.