After a tightly contested first half, Weber State University was able to pull away after halftime to snap its two-game losing streak and defeat the University of North Dakota, 66-51.
Davion Berry was the top scorer for WSU with 21 points. Frank Otis racked up a career-high with 20 points. He scored the first six points of the game for WSU. Otis also pulled down 12 rebounds for a double-double.
Head coach Randy Rahe said he knew the team had to step up its performances from the past two games.
“We knew we had to man up as a team and get our defense and rebounding back, and I thought we did that,” Rahe said. “We played with a lot of toughness and energy and had a lot of guys step up and really contribute for a team win. We were able to find a way to win.”
At the first media timeout four minutes into the game, the score was tied 6-6. The Wildcats took their first lead of the game one minute later on a Joel Bolomboy free throw.
Bolomboy came into the game midway through the first half and was able to boost WSU’s lead to five points, thanks to two inside buckets and a block on the defensive end.
UND kept the score close and excited the home crowd with 10:40 left in the game. UND drove down the court, and Jamal Webb hit a reverse layup to cut into WSU’s lead. UND pulled within two points three minutes later. After a hectic passage of play that saw both teams miss shots and turn the ball over, Lenny Antwi scored off a layup after getting a steal at the other end of the court.
The Wildcats weren’t able to pull away in the first half, and UND kept the score close throughout the half. At the break, WSU held a 29-26 lead.
WSU opened up the scoring in the second half and quickly pushed its lead to eight points. UND was hurt early in the second half by poor free-throw shooting. It missed four straight foul shots. Things continued to go badly for UND when Brandon Brekke missed four straight shots under the hoop, each time getting his own rebound and missing another shot until WSU was able to regain possession of the ball.
Despite the hot start for the Wildcats, UND refused to go away and began chipping into WSU’s lead. The Wildcats got into some foul trouble midway through the second half as UND pulled within five points with 8:30 remaining in regulation.
UND tried to swing the momentum back its way with less than seven minutes remaining. Josh Schuler converted a four-point play when Berry fouled him as he hit a 3-pointer. The four-point play cut the lead to five and gave the home crowd something to cheer about. Berry quickly quieted the crowd, however, on WSU’s next possession, drilling a three of his own.
Berry’s three killed the momentum for UND and sparked another run for the Wildcats. With three minutes left in the game, WSU’s lead was up to 11 points. As the game wrapped up, WSU continued to extend its lead, closing the game out with a 15 -point win.
Otis said the team played well, and that he was happy it was able to recover after the two losses.
“I had some really good scoring opportunities tonight, but it just feels great to get the win,” Otis said. “The last few games we didn’t play like ourselves, and we needed to get back to being who we are, and we did that tonight. Getting the win is all that matters.”
WSU will wrap up its road trip on Saturday when it takes on the University of Northern Colorado.