Jones, Taylor Lead Pokes to Win on Senior Day

It was the final home game of their careers, and Brad Jones and Joseph Taylor didn't disappoint…

LARAMIE, Wyo. --It was an emphatic way to end his last home game.

And Joseph Taylor was more than happy with the Cowboys' final play—no matter what Jim Boylen thought.

With the clock winding down and the Pokes nursing a 6-point lead, Brandon Ewing tossed the ball to Taylor, who threw down an alley-oop jam as the buzzer sounded, giving Wyoming a 72-64 win over Utah on Saturday.

"That's the way I pictured it," said Taylor, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds in his final game in the Arena Auditorium.

It didn't appear to be the way Boylen pictured it, however. The Utah coach exchanged a few heated words with Wyoming head coach Heath Schroyer about the play when the two shook hands after the game.

"To me, this isn't an 8-point win or an 8-point loss," Boylen said in a postgame interview. "It was a two-possession game."

Either way, the victory improved the Cowboys' overall record to 12-16, including a 5-10 mark in Mountain West Conference play while the Utes fell to 15-12 and 6-8, respectively.

"This was a great team win for us over a program with a great tradition in Utah," said Schroyer, who chalked up the Cowboys' final play to instinct. "When we came down with the clock ticking down, they were trying to trap Brandon (Ewing) in the corner, and he instinctively looked for an open player. Joe (Taylor) was coming down the lane and Brandon lobbed it to him.

"Jim (Boylen) is a great guy, and we're both competitive. In no way was that play planned, but emotions run high in games."

Brad Jones hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half to help give Wyoming its biggest lead of the game to that point, 42-32, with 13:18 remaining. Taylor was fouled as he dunked the ball a minute later and hit the free throw to extend the advantage to 45-34.

The Utes cut the lead to six points on a Johnnie Bryant 3-pointer and then to four on a second Bryant three with seven minutes remaining. That was as close as they would get, however; Ewing hit a 3-pointer with 2:06 to go that gave the Cowboys a 62-55 advantage, and Wyoming never missed a free throw in the final six minutes of the game.

"I believe our guys are starting to value making free throws," said Schroyer, who watched his players go 26-of-27 from the charity stripe, including a perfect 17-17 in the second half. "We work on it a lot…We shoot them every day for 15 minutes or so."

Jones, who was also playing in his final home game, led Wyoming with 20 points and four steals. He also finished 10-of-10 from the free throw line. The Pokes' other senior is Wyoming native Byron Geis, a non-scholarship transfer from South Dakota School of Mines. Geis made his first career start against the Utes and played three minutes. He is averaging nearly five minutes a game for the Cowboys this season.

"All three of our seniors made contributions to this team, and it hasn't always been easy for them," Schroyer said. "We came to Wyoming in their final season, and we made changes to the program that they had to adjust to. They've all worked hard at adjusting to those changes, and I couldn't be happier for them that they came away with a win in their final home game."

Taylor had a pair of steals and a breakaway dunk to highlight an 8-0 run that put the Cowboys up 8-2 after five minutes of play. The Utes scored six straight points to tie the score, but Taylor dropped in a hook shot, blocked a shot and hit a 3-pointer to help put Wyoming back up 19-12 with 7:22 left in the first half.

Luke Nevill scored four points during an 11-3 Utah run that gave the Utes a 23-22 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, but the Cowboys scored six of the next seven to take a 28-24 advantage into halftime.

Taylor is now averaging more than 16 points and seven rebounds in his last two games.

"I think he's starting to figure out his niche within our motion offense," Schroyer said, "and I think that he's playing under more control. Joseph is starting to grow up, from a lot of areas, and I think all the areas that he's grown (in), you're starting to see that on the floor.

"He's not perfect, but the growth that he's made in his personal life (and) academically from March 23rd, the day I got here, to March first, almost a calendar year, has been a huge, huge difference."

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