Junior Hayden Dalton energizes Wyoming in win over Montana

December 12, 2016 GMT

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Lou Adams’ pass was headed to Hayden Dalton, and Dalton was looking the other way. The ball hit the 6-foot-8 junior in the back, but after Adams saved the ball from going out of bounds and senior Jason McManamen missed a three, Dalton finished the play with a put-back dunk.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Dalton was determined to help Wyoming pull out its 85-83 win Saturday against Montana.

“Lou made a good save there,” Dalton said. “I had no idea he was passing it to me and he made a good hustle play to save it and then I just had the opportunity off the miss. Just went and made a play off the ball.”

Dalton had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in providing some key minutes off the bench against the Grizzlies, especially in the second half.

That dunk came with 5:56 to play, and a possession that looked like it would end in a Wyoming turnover cut Montana’s lead to 71-68. One minute, 27 seconds later, Dalton hit a 3-pointer to give the Cowboys their first lead in over 11 minutes.

Dalton was also a key contributor verbally.

“In one of the timeouts, I thought Hayden Dalton spoke up and really tried to energize our guys,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said. ”(He) reverted back to situations in practice, about how we yell and communicate and how we focused in on defending, and how we needed to get to that point. And then after that, I thought he went out there and played with that sense of urgency, had a big 3-point shot and then a put-back dunk.

“To me, I thought that helped with the other four guys on the floor at that time.”

‘Game within the game’

Free throws were a thorn in the Cowboys’ side Monday when they missed 12 in a 67-60 win against Colorado Christian.

The Pokes could hardly afford to miss Saturday. And they hardly did.

The Cowboys were 25 of 32 from the free-throw line against Montana.

Montana hit 26 of 31 free-throw attempts. There were plenty to go around with the referees calling fouls on any little contact, 50 in total.

“Myself and (Montana coach Travis DeCuire) were both getting on the refs,” Edwards said. “And I think at the end of the day, you do it enough just so you make sure it’s even. But again, what I didn’t want to get into was staying on them too much and not coaching the ball club.

“I just thought in our huddles it was all about defending without fouling and rebounding the basketball and then just playing in transition. But, I mean, those are three quick, little guards (Montana has). It’s tough to keep those guys in front.”

Said Dalton: “I think we adjusted to it, but we also took advantage of it on the offensive end. We were attacking the rim hard and getting to the free-throw line, which helped us a lot.”

Aka Gorski out

Wyoming junior guard Alexander Aka Gorski did not dress out Saturday, as he recovers from a concussion. Wyoming senior Morris Marshall returned from a concussion to play in his first game since Wyoming’s last contest against Montana on Nov. 14.

“Just in the midst of competition, (Aka Gorski) came down, hit his head on the floor,” Edwards said. ”(It’s a) precaution more than anything. Didn’t practice yesterday because of it. But what I like about this team is we are good with numbers, and I thought Morris came in and did a good job with his few minutes, but it was his opportunity of the next guy up in that scenario.

“But did we miss him? Probably from a shooting standpoint and probably from a defensive standpoint, to be honest with you. But once he gets back, he just makes it a little bit tougher for us as a staff with our subbing. You’ve almost got to figure out within a game who’s giving it to you and who’s not.”

Edwards said he hopes Aka Gorski will return for Wyoming’s next game Dec. 17 against Cornell.