Following its sixth-straight win last week, the Weber State University men’s basketball team will face rival Idaho State University on Monday night in Pocatello, Idaho.
WSU holds a commanding series lead over the Bengals: 75 of the 122 games played between the two teams. The Wildcats have won seven of the last eight meetings between the two teams. Last year, the Wildcats knocked off ISU at home, but fell on the road, losing 64-62 in Pocatello.
Scott Bamforth said the team expects the Bengals to come ready to play and that WSU needs to play well on Monday night in order to get the win.
“We expect them to be ready to compete and play at a high level,” Bamforth said. “We need to get back to playing better defense for a full 40 minutes.”
Bamforth has been playing well for the Wildcats recently. He was named Big Sky Player of the Week two weeks ago and he now has 999 career points, one away from becoming the 27th player in WSU history with 1,000 career points.
Freshman Joel Bolomboy has also had a good season for WSU. In the game against Southern Utah University, he finished with 13 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds. He was 3-3 from the field and 7-8 from the free-throw line, and also recorded three blocked shots on the night.
ISU is coming into the game with a 2-11 overall record and a 1-3 record in Big Sky Conference play. Both of the Bengals’ wins this year have come at home. The Bengals are coming into the game with a recent conference win last week over the University of Northern Colorado. ISU beat the Bears 86-63 for its biggest win of the regular season.
In the game against UNC, Melvin Morgan had a career-high 27 points for the Bengals. ISU also showed well as a team from beyond the arc against the Bears. The team hit 15 3-pointers in the 23-point win. ISU’s single-game school record for most 3-pointers made in a game is 16 versus the University of Montana on Jan. 18, 2001.
Morgan is one of two Bengals to start every game so far this season. The other is Tomas Sanchez. The Bengals will be boosted this semester by the return of Sherrod Baldwin, who missed the first part of the semester due to being academically ineligible.
Head coach Randy Rahe said he hopes the team will come out strong in the first half. He said the team struggled to get started last week against SUU.
“That was an extremely physical game, and it affected us in the first half,” Rahe said. “We made some good adjustments in the second half.”
In WSU’s last game against SUU, the Wildcats struggled against the Thunderbirds’ defense, but were able to eventually come away with the win.
Following the game against ISU, the Wildcats will return home for games against Northern Arizona University and California State University, Sacramento. Then the team will embark on a four-game road trip at the end of January.
Rahe said the team needs to stay on its toes during this road trip and focus on playing well on the road, something he said is always challenging.
“We still have a lot of areas to improve on, and now have to play a lot of games on the road,” Rahe said. “We have to continue to work hard and stay on edge.”