If Idaho State’s defense was good enough to keep the Bengals in the game, the offense was bad enough to take them out of it.
ISU shot 31.9% overall, 16.7% from the 3-point line and 33.3% from the free-throw line in Tuesday’s season-opening 54-40 loss at Wyoming.
The 40 points are ISU’s fewest in a game since scoring 38 in 2014 at Denver, and the fewest allowed by Wyoming to a Division I opponent since the 1949-50 season.
“We simply have to get better on offense,” Bengals coach Ryan Looney said in a postgame radio interview. “We’re simply just not playing hard enough on that end of the floor. We’re not screening hard enough, we’re not moving the ball fast enough, we’re not cutting hard enough, just not getting each other enough quality looks at the basket.”
ISU (0-1) made its last field goal with 6 minutes, 16 seconds to go in the game — a floater by Malik Porter that cut the Bengals’ deficit to 41-35. Idaho State missed its next seven shots, including five from 3-point range, and never cut further into Wyoming’s lead.
ISU also went 6 for 18 from the charity stripe, missing seven in a row at one point.
“We didn’t shoot it well from the free-throw line, we didn’t shoot it well from the 3-point line and we missed layups,” Looney said. “So it’s kind of a whole offensive deal. Our percentages in all areas aren’t good enough to win a game.”
For the third time this season, ISU played without Brayden Parker, Daxton Carr and Balint Mocsan — all of whom are expected to be major contributors. Porter and Chidi Udengwu both finished with four fouls, and Jared Stutzman had three fouls by the 17:17 mark of the second half, severely limiting ISU’s depth — especially in the low post.
“We got some really important pieces that we need to get healthy,” Looney said. “We, tonight, had no inside presence. Brayden Parker’s really going to give us that in time.”
Wyoming (1-0) was led by a career-high 32 points from Hunter Maldonado, who made 12 of 19 field goals and 8 of 10 free throws. The Cowboys went 1 for 10 from 3-point range, but converted 18 of 27 2-pointers (66.7%) to shoot 51.4% overall.
ISU outrebounded Wyoming 32-28, but the Cowboys scored 15 points off of ISU’s 15 turnovers.
In two exhibitions and one regular-season game, ISU has allowed 52, 53 and 54 points.
“I’m proud of the effort that we gave defensively,” Looney said. “Right now, that’s where we’re hanging our hat. We’re fighting on defense. ... I thought at that end of the floor, our players did a great job following our game plan.”
ISU led 5-4 and 7-6 early, ultimately trailing 21-18 at halftime. Wyoming took its first double-digit lead, 31-21, at the 12:30 mark of the second half.
A 3 from Stutzman at 9:27 and Porter’s 2 at 6:16 got ISU within six.
Porter led ISU in scoring with nine points, adding a team-best eight rebounds. Stutzman and Tarik Cool added eight points apiece.
After Maldonado’s 32 points, Wyoming’ next-leading scorer was AJ Banks with six points.
Idaho State plays Thursday at Air Force in the Falcons’ season-opener.