Justin James scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough Friday night in Laramie, as the Wyoming Cowboys lost to Niagara 72-67.

Wyoming (1-3) had a chance to tie the game with 14.2 seconds left after a pair of made free throws by Niagara’s James Towns. James drove to the lane and found Hunter Maldonado open in the right corner, but his three-pointer was short with six seconds left. The Purple Eagles made two more free throws that iced the game with 2.4 seconds left.

The Cowboys had a brief lead when James hit a three at the 11:52 mark, which made it 46-45. Niagara answered right back with a three-pointer from Raheem Solomon just 13 seconds later. That gave the Purple Eagles the lead for good, and it sparked a 12-3 run for a 57-49 lead.

UW tied it twice, at 59-59, and 61-61, in the final five minutes, but never regained the lead. Up by one, the Purple Eagles got a clutch jumper from Marvin Prochet over Justin James as the shot clock expired with 55.1 left. That put Niagara ahead 66-63. The Pokes got baskets from Maldonado and James in the final 37 seconds, but six three throws by the Purple Eagles sealed it.

Maldonado had 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for his second straight double-double. Jake Hendricks added a career-best 15 points.

The players talked about the poor start with not enough energy and focus, hurting themselves with a season-high 15 turnovers, nine of which came in the first half, and what happened down the stretch.

Head coach Allen Edwards wasn’t pleased with their start either. He felt that may have cost them the game. Edwards talked about their turnovers, defense struggling to find Prochet, the last offensive play, looked ahead to Florida, and more.

Wyoming shot 40 percent from the field. They were 30 percent in the first half and 50 in the second. The Pokes went 7-20 (35%) from deep and were 10-14 (71.4%) at the line. They did hold a 42-39 edge on the glass but had only eight assists.

Niagara (2-1) was led by Prochet with 23. He was one of four Purple Eagles in double figures. They shot 38 percent for the game but knocked down 10 three-pointers. Niagara was 12-15 (80%) at the line and had only 11 turnovers.

The Cowboys had a slow start. They trailed 16-7 with 13:31 left in the half. A 12-2 run gave UW its first lead at 19-18 with 9:02 left in the half. Niagara took it right back on a basket by Chris Barton. That led to a 9-0 run by the Purple Eagles. They had a 33-25 lead at halftime.

Wyoming heads to Florida for the rest of the Ft. Myers Tip-Off. They will play Boston College Monday at 7 p.m., Mountain Time. The game will be available on KCGY (FM 95.1). It is being televised on FS1.

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