Cowpokes’ strong first half sinks Pioneers 82-70

Early turnovers put the Pioneers at a 16 point halftime deficit and they could never recover, falling to Wyoming in Laramie last night. The stat line was relatively even with the exception of turnovers and free throws. The Pioneers gave the ball away 19 times compared to 10 for Wyoming with 14 of those Pioneer giveaways in the first half. Also, the Cowboys went to the line 25 times to DU’s 15. Wyoming’s bench delivered a whopping 45 points, which accounted for more than half of Wyoming’s tallies. However, as DU has done in most of their contests this season, they actually won the rebound battle 41 (11-30) vs. the Pokes 34 (7-27).

“I would like to compliment coach Billups and the job that he has done there,” Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said. “I thought we played a tremendous first half. Denver is a group of fighters and they came out and competed in the second half. The two things we talked about this week is taking care of the basketball and shooting free throws and we did both of those things tonight.” They did both and DU did not.

DU continues to be challenged by big teams with athletic guards and size up front. Wyoming showed the Pioneers both. A huge Wyoming squad has 7 players taller than 6’6″.

In the first half, C.J. Bobbit, Thomas Neff, Joe Rosga, Daniel Amigo, and Jake Pemberton started for Denver. In the first five minutes, Denver held close on a Krafka jumper, 6 to 10, but committed 4 turnovers. Denver fell behind, 13-23, in the next five minutes with Wyoming foul shots, close range buckets, and two three-point buckets. With five minutes remaining in the first half, the Pioneers trailed 22-37 as the teams traded punches to halftime – DU trailed 30-46 with 14 of their eventual 19 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of the game and a miserable 3 of 11 from downtown. The Cowboys outscored the DU bench 22-9.

DU started in a better rhythm in the second half, highlighted by a Joe Rosga steal at 16:44 and bucket. At the 15:00 mark, Mackey got a layup to pull within 12, 39-51. At the mid-point of the second half, DU trailed 48-61 – unable to move the margin to single digits. The teams traded points most of the half when Denver narrowed the Pokes lead with two Mackey free throws to make the score 62-71, a 9-point margin. A free throw from C.J. Bobbit at 2:50 made it 63-71, the narrowest margin of the second half. But Wyoming held off the Pioneer surge and kept a safe margin until the final minute when Cowboy free throws extended the advantage to double digits and a 70-82 final. The Pioneers battled even-up the second half but a turnover-plagued first half spelled their fate.

Joe Rosga led DU with 16 points and Daniel Amigo and Christian Mackey had 10 apiece. Christian Mackey and Joe Rosga led the Pios with 7 rebounds each. Wyoming guard Justin James led the Pokes with 21 points. Forward Hayden Dalton led everyone with 8 rebounds.  Daniel Amigo ended with 4 fouls – a problem for DU with a lack of depth up front.

Playing fast is leading to more turnovers as the players adapt to the faster playing style. Also, the team’s lack of depth is exposed when Christian Mackey and Daniel Amigo get into foul trouble. It will take some time, patience, and recruiting to address all of these issues.

The Pioneers dropped to 2-4 on the year while the Cowboys moved to 4-2. Denver’s next game is against Weber State on Saturday, December 3rd in Ogden, Utah @ 7:00PM MT.

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5 thoughts on “Cowpokes’ strong first half sinks Pioneers 82-70”

  1. If the Pios would stop beating themselves with double-digit turnovers, especially unforced ones, this team could actually be a pretty solid team. Maybe they they aren’t as fast or athletic as many of the the teams they play, but they do move the ball very well, are well-spaced and schematically sound, rebound surprisingly well and can shoot from the field well. I hope the coaches can find a way to reduce the turnovers.

    The other thing the Pios should do is stop generating so many early fouls, as it usually forces Amigo to the bench and allows the other teams to pound us inside. If this team can cut turnovers and the early fouls, they could be a surprisingly solid team in the Summit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In the post-game, Rodney agrees with you. He said traveling and passes to defenders are not acceptable errors when ‘playing fast’. He sees this as the teams biggest area for improvement. The first half in Laramie doomed the Pioneers.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Almost all of these current players played at DU last year, where they averaged 13 turnovers per game, and averaged 11 per game the year before. This year, it’s 16.5 average turnovers per game. These guys didn’t suddenly become poor fundamental basketball players – they are, in fact, still adjusting to a new system that almost none of them were recruited to play at this level. That said, I think ball security will be drilled into them in the coming weeks and they will bring that T/O average down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really hoping we can win one of these next four, but it’s going to be difficult if we keep playing so sloppy. Coming back to Magness on December 17 (this long stretch of road games sucks btw, for fans and players alike) with a 2-8 record would be pretty discouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

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