The Weber State University men’s basketball team improved to 5-0 in conference play on Thursday night when it knocked off Montana State University 63-49 in a low-scoring game at the Dee Events Center.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half and missed a handful of open shots.
“When we came out, we didn’t play as hard, and we weren’t as locked in as we were in practice,” said WSU point guard Damian Lillard. “In the second half, we made the adjustments and were able to fight a little more and come out with the win.”
Lillard scored the first points of the game on WSU’s first possession. After working the ball around inside, Lillard got the ball on the wing and hit a 3-pointer less than a minute into the game.
Jordan Richardson hit a 3-pointer two minutes later to give WSU a 6-0 lead.
Lillard struggled to score in the first half, only coming up with five points in the first 20 minutes. Scott Bamforth was one of the consistent scorers for WSU in the game. He finished the night with a team-high 20 points.
Byron Fulton was a strong inside threat for WSU throughout the game and finished with a double-double. Fulton had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Head Coach Randy Rahe said that Fulton’s performance was crucial for WSU.
“I thought Byron was the one guy tonight right from the start,” Rahe said, “who came out and had a live body. He was excited to play. Byron loves to play the game. He does some things that make you shake your head around. He did another one tonight, but he just plays and doesn’t let anything bother him.”
With 11 minutes to go in the half, Kyle Bullinger checked in for the first time since dislocating his elbow in early December.
The Bobcats started to chip away at the WSU lead, and with 8:30 to play in the first half, MSU was within four points.
The first half was low scoring, with neither team able to get things going offensively.
With 2:32 until the half, Michael Dison hit a 3-pointer for MSU to pull the Bobcats within one point, making it 23-22. Thirty seconds later, Dison hit another three to give MSU a two point lead.
The Wildcats answered right back on the next possession. Fulton hit a 3-pointer to retake the lead for WSU.
Both teams picked up the intensity in the last few minutes of the half, trading baskets. At the break, the score was tied at 27. Neither team shot well in the first half. WSU had a 28 percent shooting average at the half, and MSU went into the break with a 38 percent average.
Bamforth looked to ignite the WSU offense at the start of the second half, hitting a nice inside shot and two 3-pointers to give WSU the 37-29 lead with 16 minutes to go in the game.
MSU fought back, going on a 7-0 run and cutting the WSU lead to one with 11 minutes to go.
After a low scoring first half, Lillard started to come alive in the second. With six minutes left in the game, Lillard converted an impressive three-point play. He drove down the court, drew a foul and made a tough layup to take him to 15 points on the night. He finished the game with 17 points.
The Wildcats were able to hold off MSU’s comeback attempts and went on to win 63-49. WSU will take on the University of Montana on Saturday night at the Dee Events Center.