The Weber State University men’s basketball team got its seventh-straight home win on Monday night against the Idaho State University Bengals, winning by the score of 56-40.
WSU controlled the tipoff and took the lead on the opening possession on a layup from junior center Kyle Tresnak.
The Bengals kept the score close early, before WSU went on a rally at about the five-minute mark, getting turnovers and converting on the fast break. At the midway mark of the first half, the Wildcats held a seven-point lead.
The second part of the first half started slow for both teams, as neither could capitalize on turnovers from the other team.
The Wildcats slowly started to pull away with about six minutes left in the half, leading by as many as 17 points.
ISU had a run of its own with about four minutes to go, scoring seven unanswered points. The Wildcats had the last shot of the half, but it was too strong, and the Wildcats went into halftime up by 10 with the score 31-21.
“I think they (ISU) have one of the best zone defenses in all the league,” said senior Frank Otis. “We just really couldn’t get it going against it tonight. We had a lot of turnovers and stuff, and that’s what kind of slowed us down.”
Tresnak led all scorers at the half with 12 points. Junior Davion Berry added seven points for the Wildcats. Freshman forward Joel Bolomboy led all rebounders with seven. Juniors Andre Hatchett and Tomas Sanchez had six points each for the Bengals.
WSU shot 48 percent from the field in the first half, but had a tough time from behind the arc, shooting just 12.5 percent on 1-8 shooting.
WSU scored 16 first-half points in the paint, while scoring 10 second-chance points and 10 points off turnovers.
ISU shot 43 percent from the field in the first half, while shooting only 1-7 from three.
WSU had just four turnovers to ISU’s 10 in the first half.
WSU broke its scoring drought on its first possession of the second half. The Wildcats and Bengals exchanged baskets for the first four minutes of the second half.
ISU pulled back within single digits with 15 minutes left, cutting the lead to seven. WSU responded with a run of its own, outscoring ISU 13-2 over a six-minute span, bringing the lead to 18.
The Bengals fought back, cutting the lead down to 11 with four minutes to go.
The Wildcats finished the game strong, scoring the last five points of the game.
“The most important game is the next one (you play),” Tresnak said. “You can’t overlook anyone. I feel like we did a pretty good job on that.”
Tresnak led all scorers in the game with 15 points. He also pulled down seven rebounds. Berry scored 14 points. Otis had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Senior Melvin Morgan led all ISU scorers with 12 points, while Hatchett had nine points and six rebounds for the Bengals.
WSU finished shooting 43 percent from the 3-point line in second half, while holding ISU to just 35 percent shooting from the field in the second half. The Wildcats also led on the boards, pulling down 35 to ISU’s 20.
“We knew tonight was going to be a big grind; we knew we were going to have to slug it out a little bit,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “They made it pretty tough on us for a while. I’ve always told the guys, ‘The biggest game on the schedule, the biggest game of the year, is the next game. It doesn’t matter who you play, it’s the next game. That’s all you can control.’”
The Wildcats’ next game will be on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Dee Events Center against the Big Sky Conference-leading University of Montana Grizzlies.
“We expect a hard-nosed game,” Otis said. “They are a really good defensive team. It’s going to be a battle, it’s going to be a dogfight. Everybody should expect that. They don’t like us and we don’t like them. It’s a true rivalry game.”
Rahe said the game should be an interesting one.
“We want to try to beat ’em,” he said. “Obviously, they’re two games up. If we can find a way to win Thursday night, that will put a little heat on them. They haven’t felt much heat yet this year. . . . Our guys will be excited to play, as will Montana. These are fun games. These are the games that you want to play college basketball for; these are the games that you want to suit up and play. Our guys will be ready to go, they’ll be excited. It should be a fun night.”