The Weber State University men’s basketball team faced its biggest challenge of the year so far when it took on Utah State University in Logan.
In a back-and-forth game that saw 24 lead changes, the Aggies held on for an 11-point win. In the end, poor foul shooting late in the game hurt the Wildcats. WSU only converted 55 percent of its foul shots.
Head Coach Randy Rahe said he thought the Wildcats played well overall, but just came up a little short when it counted.
“I was proud of our effort, and I thought we fought hard,” Rahe said. “It just came down to missing shots that we needed.”
Play went back and forth early in the game, with WSU taking an early lead on a fast break after a missed three by USU. The Wildcats came up with the rebound, and Gelaun Wheelwright hit a layup to put WSU up by two. Two minutes later, Wheelwright hit a three to give the Wildcats a five-point lead.
Near the end of the first half, the Wildcats set up another three to take a two-point lead. WSU passed the ball well around the perimeter, kicking it out to Jordan Richardson on the wing. Richardson hit the shot to give the Wildcats the lead with five minutes left in the half.
The teams went into the half tied at 28. The lead switched hands multiple times throughout the first period of play, with neither team able to take a commanding lead.
The Aggies struggled in the first half from the foul line, going 1-4 from the line late in the half. USU out-rebounded the Wildcats in the first half, pulling down seven more rebounds than WSU.
At the start of the second half, the teams traded missed baskets and turnovers before Kyle Tresnak got to the foul line to give the Wildcats the lead. The lead was short-lived, however. The Aggies went down the court and regained a one-point lead when Keyshawn Reed found Danny Berger inside for the go-ahead layup. On USU’s next possession, Jarred Shaw hit a jump hook to extend the Aggie lead.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Aggies had a one-point lead until Wheelwright hit a deep three from the wing, putting WSU on top again. At the eight-minute mark of the second half, there had been 21 lead changes in the game. The final total was 24 lead changes.
With six minutes remaining, the Aggies took a three-point lead. On WSU’s next possession, Shaw came up with a block, which drew the loudest cheer of the night from the USU fans. As had happened all night, things quickly swung back to the Wildcats. After a pair of Scott Bamforth free throws to cut the lead to one, Wheelwright tied the game again with five minutes left in the game.
“With five minutes to go, we were tied, and they made their shots and we missed them,” Rahe said. “We missed 13 free throws, and you just can’t do that to a team like Utah State, especially at home.”
Davion Berry echoed Rahe’s thoughts about the team coming up short when it mattered.
“Utah State executed down the stretch and we couldn’t, and that was the difference,” Berry said. “We missed our free throws and committed a lot of fouls and couldn’t make our shots when we needed to.”
The Aggies wouldn’t let up and, a minute later, had their largest lead up to that point, going up by four points. On USU’s next possession, Reed connected on a shot from the elbow to give the Aggies a six-point lead. USU held on this time for its third win of the season.