by Max Westerman |
Due to scheduling restraints imposed by COVID-19 this year, the Big Sky Conference is keeping things simple by grouping matchups against like opponents. The first time this came into play was last week with Portland State University.
Game 1: Portland
The first matchup was won handily by the Wildcats 94-66. The Vikings never really came close in this one as the Wildcats were firing on all cylinders. WSU lead in almost every statistical category, dominating in the fast break with 26 points to PSU’s 18. Weber State out-rebounded PSU 34-23 which led to 11 second-chance points. The Wildcats dominated the paint with 34 of their 94 points coming close to the rim. Their presence down low also limited Viking scorers to 20 paint points.
Zahir Porter provided the spark in this contest with his hot three-point shooting (3-5) and his extra effort on a fast-break which put him on the receiving end of an easy layup. He scored a season high 24 points on the night and for the first time this season, Isiah Brown was not the leading scorer.
Game 2: Portland
Weber State dominated Portland State in their first matchup and it showed in game two. WSU went down early due to careless turnovers and poor three-point shooting. Their sleepy start eventually led to a 12-point lead at the half and a 16-point lead five minutes into the 2nd half. Weber State fought back with 15-0 run and lead the Vikings by five at two separate times in the half. In the end, Portland State finished strong scoring the game’s last seven points and surviving Zahir Porter’s would-be game tying jumper from the paint.
Five Wildcats scored in double digits and again, WSU dominated in almost every statistical category. This time, turnovers proved to be the difference. Also, Portland State scored twice as many second chance points as the Wildcats. Portland State came to play and stole a victory from Weber State.
Game 3: BYU
In game three of this recap, Weber State took on BYU in what should be WSU’s final game against a non-conference opponent. Weber State played well throughout. There were nine lead changes in the first half. Until a slight BYU separation with 7:55 left in the first half, this game was evenly matched. Weber State stayed with the Cougars throughout but could only loosen the vice grip BYU had in shrinking the deficit to five points with 1:50 left in the game. Dontay Bassett earned his first start after regaining his form due to a pre-season knee injury. His 6’9” frame helped to combat BYU’s big-men. Zahir Porter and Bassett were a combined 7-11 from beyond the three-point arc. Everyone contributed on crashing the glass as six Wildcat players were able to snag at least four rebounds apiece.
The result of this in-state matchup ultimately came down to depth and which team executed at a higher level. Weber State played their hearts out but BYU’s bench contributed 32 points to WSU’s 13. The Wildcats turned the ball over 12 times and the Cougars capitalized by scoring 14 points off those turnovers.
“Our goal was to come down the stretch and … put ourselves in position, a four or five-point game and we’re going to find a way to win the game,” said Coach Randy Rahe. “We got to that point, and [the Cougars] got loose on a post touch and a couple things. We were right where we needed to be, but they made a couple plays and we didn’t.”
Weber State’s next opponent was set to be the Idaho State Bengals, but both of those games were canceled due to Covid discovered in the Idaho State locker room. Luckily, WSU was able to add a game against Utah Valley at 2:30 pm Saturday, January 2nd.
Featured image © Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics