On Thursday night, Weber State University’s men’s basketball team cruised to its 16th win of the year when it knocked off Sacramento State University 75-60 in the first of a two-game road trip.
Head Coach Randy Rahe said that it was important for the team to come out and start strong tonight against the SSU team that would be desperate for a win.
“I think our kids knew if we don’t show up to play, this was going to be a tough night,” Rahe said. “I think they showed up ready to play.”
The game started close and both teams were tied at three, before WSU went on an 11-0 run to make it 14-3 early on.
The Wildcats were in control for much of the first half and held a double-digit lead for a large part of the half, playing strong defense, which frustrated the Hornets.
“I thought we really defended well. We’ve had some challenges in the past with our second-half defense,” Rahe said, “but I thought it was really, really good. We held them to 29 percent . . . I thought our kids really executed the game plan well.”
Damian Lillard sparked the Wildcats early on when he stole the ball, flew down the court and threw down a dunk for WSU.
Lillard passed Jermaine Boyette on the all time scorer list for WSU, moving into third place. He finished the night with 21 points.
Kyle Bullinger played well in the first half for WSU, playing in his first road game for WSU since dislocating his elbow in December. Bullinger pulled down three rebounds for WSU and played tough defense.
Bullinger said that, for him, scoring isn’t the most important thing, but he said he always tries to play his hardest.
“I would say my main goal is to get in a position to help this team by defending and rebounding,” Bullinger said. “You can always control how hard you play.”
Bullinger said that he is starting to feel stronger and said there have been times where he hasn’t felt 100 percent.
“There were times when I came back in the first few games,” Bullinger said, “where I’d catch myself not going for a rebound because I knew my elbow wasn’t all the way back yet.”
Darin Mahoney played one of his best games of the season. He finished the night with 14 points, and a career high 10 rebounds on the night. It was Mahoney’s first career double-double.
With four players in double digits on the night, Rahe said he felt the game showed a total team effort and was pleased with how WSU played.
“I thought our ball movement was terrific,” Rahe said. “We were unselfish and got that ball moving side to side, finding guys. It really helps our team if you can get that kind of balance where everybody is looking for that next guy.”
Now the Wildcats will head to Idaho State University on Saturday when they take on the Idaho State University Bengals at 7 pm. Rahe said he expects ISU to challenge the Wildcats and said the team will need to play hard to get the win.
“They’re playing terrific basketball right now,” Rahe said. “Their confidence level is really high, that’s going to be a huge game for us.”