[media-credit id=13 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Weber State University men’s basketball team lost the opportunity to host the Big Sky Conference tournament when it fell to the University of Montana Grizzlies 66-51 on Tuesday night in Montana.
Head Coach Randy Rahe said the Grizzlies outplayed WSU and deserved to come away with the win.
“They played better than us tonight,” Rahe said. “That’s the bottom line. We could not make a shot . . . They played a better game on their home court, and they just flat beat us.”
Scott Bamforth got the first bucket for WSU after the Grizzlies got the first basket of the game.
Kyle Tresnak established a strong presence inside early for WSU, scoring four points in the first five minutes of the game.
While the Wildcats jumped out to a 6-2 lead, UM kept the score close early on. With 10 minutes left, Kareem Jamar hit a 3-pointer for the Grizzlies to cut the Wildcat lead to three points.
One minute later, UM took the lead when Michael Weisner hit a layup off of a WSU turnover.
Will Cherry pushed the Grizzlies’ lead to eight with a layup with six minutes left in the first half. UM then went on a 14-0 run to push the lead to 24-16.
The Grizzlies’ defense frustrated the normally potent WSU offense through most of the first half and was able to take a 10-point lead into the half, leading 34-24 at the half.
WSU continued to struggle at the start of the second half. Throughout the game, the Wildcats struggled to contain the Grizzlies.
UM controlled the game for much of the second half, and the Wildcats were unable to get within eight points.
With 12 minutes to go, Damian Lillard tried to spark a comeback for WSU. He converted a layup, then Kyle Bullinger hit a jumper to cut the lead to six. Tresnak then converted a foul shot to make it 43-38 with eight minutes left in the game.
The Grizzlies pushed the lead back to eight thanks to a three-point play by Cherry. Rahe said every time the Wildcats started to come back, they would stall.
“Everytime we needed to get just one more push,” Rahe said, “we couldn’t get that one more shot.”
Throughout the game, the Wildcats struggled from the field, especially from beyond the arc. With six minutes left in the game, WSU had only converted on two 3-pointers off of 17 attempts.
As UM tried to close out the game, the Wildcats once again made a comeback. With four minutes left, Lillard hit a 3-pointer in the corner to cut the lead to five.
Despite the comeback attempt, UM was too strong and closed out the game.
Bamforth said that WSU was outplayed by the Grizzlies and hopes to have a better showing next week in the conference tournament.
“We give all the credit to Montana for coming out and playing well,” Bamforth said. “We will be back ready to go in a week, and our togetherness will allow us to perform better.”
Rahe said the team’s main focus now is the semi-final game in the conference tournament, he said his team will be prepared for anything.
“In the conference tournament anything can happen,” Rahe said. “We’ve got to be ready to go.”