The Weber State University men’s basketball team opened up the 2013 Big Sky Tournament in style with an 81-58 win over Northern Arizona University on Thursday.
The Wildcats never trailed in the game, and, at one point in the game, led by 23 points.
The Wildcats took an early lead, going up 3-0 in the first two minutes of the game.WSU tried to establish a strong inside presence early in the game, going to Kyle Tresnak and Frank Otis
down low on their first three possessions of the game.
Head coach Randy Rahe said the team came out with a lot of intensity and didn’t look back.
“I thought our team was really focused today, and it showed in how we played,” Rahe said.
WSU scored the first seven points of the game, forcing the Lumberjacks to take an early timeout to regroup. NAU scored its first points of the game at the 15-minute mark of the first half. Eight minutes into the game, WSU held a 14-6 lead. NAU wasn’t able to seriously threaten the Wildcats throughout the first half.
While WSU built a big lead in the first half, Scott Bamforth struggled shooting and didn’t hit a 3-pointer until less than one minute remained in the half. The Lumberjacks also struggled from beyond the arc, failing to hit a 3-pointer during the first half.
At the break, WSU held a 36-21 lead over NAU. WSU shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and was led by Tresnak, who had nine points in the first half.
WSU continued its good play in the second half, while NAU struggled to contain the Wildcats’ offensive unit. For much of the second half, the Wildcats held at least a 20-point lead.
The Wildcats exploited NAU mistakes and missed shots throughout the game, scoring multiple points in transition play. As the half wore on, the Wildcats continued to wear down the Lumberjack defense and build their lead. With three minutes remaining in the game, WSU had an 81-58 lead. The Wildcats kept the Lumberjacks from scoring again and walked away with an 81-58 win.
For the game, the Wildcats shot 53.6 percent from the field and held NAU to 37 percent shooting. The Wildcats were 5-16 from the 3-point range. WSU came into the game leading the nation in field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage defense.
WSU also out-rebounded NAU 36-27 and had 15 turnovers, nine steals and seven blocked shots.
Rahe said the win was the first step, but not the team’s final goal.
“We were ready to play and paid attention to our game plan and executed on both ends of the floor,” Rahe said. “This is just Step 1, and we have to be ready to go out again tomorrow.”
Otis was one of four Wildcats in double figures, finishing with 16 points on 7-10 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. Davion Berry had 13 points, six assists, six rebounds and two steals and was a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line.
Tresnak added 12 points and six rebounds, along with three blocked shots. Bamforth had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. Freshman Joel Bolomboy came off the bench with nine points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
WSU will take on the University of North Dakota on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinal of the conference tournament.