On Thursday night, Weber State University’s undefeated streak in Big Sky Conference play came to an end when the Wildcats lost 79-76 to Montana State University.
Head coach Randy Rahe said MSU came into the game with a bit of a different look, and WSU struggled to adjust.
“Montana State changed some things up on us and got us a little out of our rhythm in the second half,” Rahe said. “We just didn’t play very well in the second half and got a little impatient at times, and they outplayed us.”
Davion Berry got the scoring under way on WSU’s first possession, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Wildcats on top early.
The Bobcats answered back quickly to take a 4-3 lead. MSU’s defense looked strong early, forcing the Wildcats to keep the ball around the perimeter and cutting off their inside game. The tough Bobcat defense also forced key turnovers that led to points in the first half.
Scott Bamforth struck back a few minutes later with another 3-pointer to put the Wildcats back on top. Jordan Richardson hit another 3-pointer to push WSU’s lead to 9-7. It was the third 3-pointer for the Wildcats to start the game.
The first half was tight. Seven minutes into the game, WSU held a two-point lead over the Bobcats. MSU regained the lead and held it for much of the reminder of the half. The Wildcats managed to regain a slim lead going into the half, ahead 40-37 at the break.
The Bobcats started out the second half well and kept the score close. With 16 minutes left, WSU had a 43-42 lead. WSU’s lead was short-lived, and the Bobcats clawed back to take a 53-47 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Midway through the second half, the Bobcats went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead over WSU.
A controversial moment came with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Joel Bolomboy had what appeared to be a clean dunk ruled no good by the officials. There was more controversy in the game a few minutes later when a fight nearly broke out between the two teams underneath WSU’s basket. The brawl resulted in the ejection of WSU’s Frank Otis.
Berry tried to start a comeback for WSU, but it wasn’t enough, and the Wildcats fell to the Bobcats for their first conference loss of the season.
Berry led WSU with 24 points in the game. He knocked down a career-high six 3-pointers. Bamforth also played well, finishing the game with 14 points and four 3-pointers.
Rahe said the Wildcats struggled to keep possession of the ball throughout the second half.
“We didn’t take care of the ball in the second half, and that’s something we have to correct,” Rahe said.
WSU shot 50 percent from the field, but was out-rebounded by MSU 33-30. WSU also committed 16 turnovers in the loss, while the Bobcats had seven turnovers.
The Wildcats will face another tough game this weekend when they take on the now-top-ranked team in the Big Sky, the University of Montana.
Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies could be the deciding factor when it comes down to who will host the Big Sky tournament. If WSU loses on Saturday, it will be two games behind UM in the conference standings.