by Zachary Knecht
Featured Image: Photo by Weber State Athletics
Weber State Northern AZ Recap
The Weber State Wildcats end the season on a high note, defeating the Northern AZ Lumberjacks 90-89 in an overtime thriller. WSU concluded its season with many positives to reflect on going into the upcoming Big Sky Tournament.
The Wildcats (17-14) hang tight as the third seed in the Big Sky (12-6), while the Lumberjacks (9-22) drop back into the ninth seed (5-13), with a matchup between them and the tenth seed, looming.
Weber State’s stars Dillon Jones and Steven Verplancken Jr. carried their team to victory Monday. Jones was nearly unstoppable at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome, dropping 24 points and 11 rebounds for another double-double and Big Sky Player of the Week. He shot nine of ten from the field and three of four from the three-point line, dishing out four assists in the win. Verplancken Jr. led the team in scoring with 26, hitting four of his eight attempts from three.
Northern AZ leaned heavily on the talents of their star player, Jalen Cone. The junior guard scored 29 in the overtime loss but wasn’t nearly as efficient as he would have liked. Cone shot ten of 26 from the field, his biggest struggles coming from range, hitting only five of his 18 shots from deep. Much of his supporting cast was efficient. Notably, Nik Mains produced a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double in the effort.
WSU shot lights out at Northern AZ. They converted on 56.1% of their shots from the field and 48% from three. No amount of effort seemed like enough to slow down this Wildcat offense. This shooting masterclass was a collective effort, with many players on their roster contributing to its success. KJ Cunningham and Zahir Porter especially stepped up in the win. The two combined for 26 points on nine of 22 shooting, draining five of their 11 attempts from three.
The Wildcats also gave themselves plenty of opportunities with effective passing. Weber State accumulated 17 assists on the night in one of their greatest displays of teamwork of the year. Their efforts hopefully will set the tone for their next battle, which will be do-or-die.
Best Foot Forward
WSU’s shooting lifted them to the win Monday, but there will be much to improve if they want to win their first tournament duel. They can’t solely rely on their shooting efficiency to carry them to wins, and their lack of production in other fields nearly led to their demise.
Weber State was dominated in rebounding. They allowed the Lumberjacks to secure 21 offensive rebounds, giving them a plethora of opportunities to stay in the game. These rosters have posted nearly identical rebounding numbers, so it was demoralizing to see the Wildcats dominated in the paint throughout the contest. Each board can make or break when it’s win or go home – and it was nearly the case against Northern AZ – so WSU looks to clean up their game moving forward.
The Wildcats also lost the turnover battle by a sizable margin, 15-10. They gave away the ball too often, forcing little mistakes against the Lumberjacks. Northern AZ averages the least turnovers per game (9.8), though, so WSU deserves some slack for their lack of creating turnovers.
What’s to Come
The Wildcats’ next destination is the Big Sky Tournament, where they will take on the #6 Sacramento State Hornets in their first duel.
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|Weber State Starters||PTS||REB||AST||FG||3PT||MIN|
|Steven Verplancken Jr., G||26||4||4||8-15||4-8||44|
|Dillon Jones, F||24||11||4||9-10||3-4||45|
|KJ Cunningham, G||11||1||5||4-10||3-7||38|
|Dyson Koehler, F||4||4||1||2-5||0-2||23|
|Alex Tew, C||4||1||0||2-2||0-0||8|
|Zahir Porter, G||15||4||2||5-11||2-4||30|
|Handje Tamba, C||6||7||0||2-3||0-0||28|
|Daniel Rouzan, F||0||0||1||0-1||0-0||4|
|Keith Dinwiddie Jr., G||0||0||0||0-0||0-0||1|
|Junior Ballard, G||0||1||0||0-0||0-0||4|
|Northern AZ Starters||PTS||REB||AST||FG||3PT||MIN|
|Jalen Cone, G||29||2||3||10-26||5-18||42|
|Xavier Fuller, G||17||6||2||7-12||1-4||34|
|Liam Lloyd, G||16||7||3||5-10||5-9||33|
|Nik Mains, F||10||11||2||4-10||1-2||41|
|Carson Towt, F||6||6||3||2-8||0-0||26|
|Jack Wistrcill, F||11||4||1||4-9||2-5||23|
|Trenton McLaughlin, G||0||0||0||0-0||0-0||12|
|Oakland Fort, G||0||2||5||0-2||0-2||14|