After winning 10-straight conference games, the Weber State University men’s basketball team fell to rival Idaho State University 64-62 on Saturday night in Pocatello.
“That’s the way basketball goes,” said WSU Head Coach Randy Rahe. “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and you’ve just got to deal with it. Hopefully we’ll get stronger from this.”
The game started out slow with neither team being able to build a strong lead. ISU took an early three-point lead going up 7-4 with 12 minutes left in the half. Byron Fulton answered back a few minutes later and gave the Wildcats a three-point lead halfway through the first half.
Rahe said WSU struggled to get its shots to fall, and the Bengals were able to take advantage of that.
“It just didn’t happen,” Rahe said. “We had some looks, and they didn’t go down. That’s how basketball works sometimes.”
Throughout the first half, the Wildcats struggled with their shooting. For much of the half, WSU’s shooting percentage was below 30 percent.
The Bengals jumped out to a 21-15 lead with five minutes left in the half. Damian Lillard and Scott Bamforth both struggled offensively in the first half.
Just before halftime, Lillard hit a 3-pointer to pull the Wildcats within two points, but at the half, ISU was up 29-25.
Lillard tried to spark the team in the second half, cutting the ISU lead to two points when he ran the length of the court and converting a layup to make it 37-35.
The Bengals pushed the lead to nine points and forced WSU to take a timeout with 12:11 left in the game.
With the Bengals up by eight, Bamforth hit a 3-pointer to cut into the lead, pulling WSU within five points with nine minutes to go.
Bamforth then hit a two that kept WSU within reach of the Bengals.
With seven minutes to play, Kyle Tresnak cut the ISU lead to one with a 10-foot jumper.
A minute later, Kyle Bullinger gave WSU its first lead since the 10 minute mark of the first half. Bullinger hit a 3-pointer from the wing to put the Wildcats on top 56-55.
Bullinger repeatedly came up big for WSU late in the game, converting three quick baskets for the Wildcats.
With 1:16 left, the Wildcats had a 62-61 lead. Lillard missed a shot with 30 seconds left, ISU rebounded, went down the court and Kenny McGowen hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer expired, causing the ‘Cats to fall 64-62 in their first Big Sky loss of the year.
The Bengals improved to 5-4 in conference play. WSU is now tied at the top the Big Sky with the University of Montana.
Bamforth said the loss hurts, but the team will hope to bounce back.
“It definitely hurts,” Bamforth said, “but we are going to come back stronger than we were. We’ve got to make sure this is the last time we feel this way.”
The Wildcats will return to action next Thursday when they take on Portland State University at the Dee Events Center. The Wildcats will look to bounce back and keep pace with UM as the top team in the Big Sky Conference.