The Weber State University men’s basketball team started the season off in impressive fashion on Friday night, setting a school record for most 3-pointers made in a game during their 109-50 rout of Northern New Mexico College at the Dee Events Center.
The 59-point victory is the largest winning margin in WSU history. Damian Lillard said the team was just trying to come out and play their game.
“We just wanted to focus on ourselves and do what we always do,” Lillard said.
Coming off of a big preseason victory against the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, the Wildcats picked up right where they left off in their first regular season game of the year. WSU jumped out to an early 10-2 lead over NNMC and started strong defensively, holding the Eagles to just two points for the first five minutes of the game.
Scott Bamforth started out the first half strong, scoring eight early points, including two 3-pointers. Throughout the half, the Wildcats dominated play, and held the Eagles under 10 points for more than half of the first period of play.
Lillard led the ’Cats in the first half with 16 points. Near the end of the half, Lillard took off down the court on a fast break and finished with a nice layup, showing he didn’t lose any speed or agility following his season-ending injury last year.
The Wildcats shared the ball well during the half. In addition to Lillard’s 16 points, Bamforth and Jordan Richardson had eight points. WSU also showed their shooting depth, hitting seven threes in the half to help the team to a 49-20 lead at the break.
In the second half, Bamforth continued his impressive shooting; in the game he went five for five from the 3-point line. As a team, WSU converted on 17 total threes, breaking a school record for most 3-point shots made in a game. Bullinger hit the three to break the record with six minutes left in the game. His three extended the WSU lead to 88-40.
Halfway through the second half, the WSU defense gave the fans something to cheer about with back-to-back blocks from Mike Brown and Darin Mahoney. Bullinger said, in order for the Wildcats to be successful in their next game against Utah State University, they’ll have to turn in another strong defensive performance.
“Our success is based on how well we defend them for 35 seconds,” Bullinger said. “We know they have that complicated offense. They run a lot of sets; we’ve got to stay disciplined and understand the type of actions they’re going to run, be ready for any wrinkles they’re going to throw.”
Head Coach Randy Rahe said Friday’s game was a good chance to give some younger players chances to play in a game situation.
“It was good for us to get a lot of guys some minutes,” Rahe said. “Some younger guys got to play; we got Jordan Richardson some court time.”
Defensively, Frank Otis, a transfer student, stood out for the Wildcats. Booth racked up a double-double with 13 points and an impressive 17 rebounds. Lillard said Otis’ rebounding performance was one of the best he’s seen.
“I think he showed that he’s a beast,” Lillard said. “That’s the main thing he showed. Seventeen rebounds — I think we’ve only had that one time since I’ve been here.”
On Tuesday night, the Wildcats will host in-state rival USU. Rahe said the game will be a good challenge for his team, and that he expects an exciting game.
“It’ll be a hell of a test for them on Tuesday night.”