Cowboys win Game 2 of CBI finals

Mar 30, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor

Laramie - The Cowboys caught fire in the second half of Wednesday night's must-win game against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, rattling off 48 points for an 81-57 win and forcing a third and final game for the College Basketball Invitational championship.

Junior guard Alexander Aka Gorski scored 14 points in the second half to lead the Pokes to the win. The final game of the series is set for Friday at 5 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium on ESPNU.

"Loved the crowd tonight. The support from the fans and their energy was really a sixth man for us," UW head coach Allen Edwards said. "We had a different mindset going into tonight's game. We talked a lot about defending and rebounding the basketball after Monday's game. I've always been a big proponent in that our offense will find itself. I thought we started the first half and the second half with what we call three kills, meaning three stops in a row against our opponent. I think that set the tone for the rest of the game."

Friday's game will be the first postseason championship game for UW since the Pokes played in the NIT title game in 1986.

"Getting back home in front of our crowd was tremendous," Edwards said. "Like I said to the crowd after the game, please come back Friday night and bring someone with you and the first 250 student tickets are on me."

Sophomore Justin James led the Cowboys in scoring for the ninth time in the last 11 games with a game-high 21 points. His 12th 20-point game of the season lifted the Cowboys to a crucial victory on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. James also recorded eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Aka Gorski scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, including 11-straight points to put the game away. Aka Gorski netted five triples on the night on just seven attempts. Junior Alan Herndon led the Pokes on the boards with 10 rebounds, his fourth game this season with double-figure rebounds. Senior Jason McManamen now has 1,028 points in his career after eight on Wednesday.

The Pokes shot 45 percent from the field and held Coastal Carolina to 31 percent from the field. It was seventh time this season UW has held an opponent to under 35 percent shooting. The Cowboys also got 45 rebounds to CCU's 36 including 38 defensive rebounds.

"In terms of going to the glass tonight, I felt our guys did a better job of committing to boxing out and rebounding the basketball." Edwards said. "Getting the ball up and down the court and picking them up defensively full court I thought also helped."

The Pokes got off to a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes of the game on a run that included three pointers from Jeremy Lieberman and James and a dunk from Jonathan Barnes on a slick pass from McManamen. The Cowboys built the lead to 14-6 on a banked-in three pointer from Herndon with under 15 minutes remaining in the second half.

The Chanticleers held UW without a point for over four minutes, keeping the Pokes within reach at 23-17. The Pokes countered, holding CCU scoreless for nearly five minutes, but it was only a 25-20 advantage for the Pokes with under three minutes left in the opening stanza.

Friday's game is set for 5 p.m. and will be the Pokes' 38th game this season the most in a single-season in school history.

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