In its second game of the season, the Weber State University men’s basketball team traveled to Fort Collins, Colo., to face Colorado State University on Saturday. The Wildcats fell behind early and lost to the Rams 88-67.
“I wasn’t sure we could beat this team at this time of year,” said CSU head coach Larry Eustachy after the game. “This team had 8,000-plus minutes that they’ve played at Weber State. We are at 1,700-plus right now. We beat a really experienced team.”
The Wildcats once again struggled early on in the game, making only one of their first four field goals. The Rams quickly jumped out to a 9-2 lead, prompting a WSU timeout.
The Wildcats responded with a 6-1 run of their own, bringing them to within two. On the play that brought the score to 10-8, WSU center Kyle Tresnak went down on the floor with a twisted ankle and was helped off the court. He later returned.
The Rams again pulled away, driving their lead up to 10 midway through the first half. The Rams led by as many as 14 in the first half.
The Wildcats quickly got into foul trouble, committing 10 fouls in the first 13 minutes of the game. Both teams ended up in the double bonus in the first half.
The game was back and forth from about the eight-minute mark as the lead fluctuated between eight and 13 points.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 11 with seconds to play, but the Rams hit a buzzer-beater three to give them a 41-27 lead going into the half.
CSU forward J.J. Avila led all scorers with 15 points in the first half. Forward Gerson Santo added six points for the Rams.
“Coach had been talking about this team, saying it was going to be our toughest game,” said Avila after the game. “We really focused on this team. They are supposed to be an NCAA tournament team. They won 30 games last year. We really all bought in and tried to play together as much as we could.”
Guard Davion Berry led the Wildcats with nine points. Tresnak added five points.
The Wildcats shot just 35 percent in the first half, including going just 1-7 from behind the arc. WSU committed eight turnovers and were outscored 16-8 in the paint. There were 27 fouls called in the first half, leading to 37 free throws.
The Rams came out shooting lights out, scoring on the majority of their early second-half possessions. The Wildcats hung in, limiting the CSU lead to 15 points.
Avila and the Rams blew the game open midway through the second half. Avila scored 12 of the first 21 points for CSU, giving the Rams a 19-point lead.
“We were in a good flow offensively,” Avila said. “That really helped us. The ball was going in; that helped us too. We were focused on the defense.”
The Wildcats and the Rams played back and forth for the remainder of the game. Both benches were emptied at the end of the game, giving all players a chance to play. The final score was 88-67.
Avila led all scorers with 30 points. He also had six assists and seven rebounds. CSU guard Daniel Bejarano added 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
“Our offense was there, but I’m more impressed with our defense,” said Bejarano after the game. “We play well together. We know what each player can do.”
The Wildcats were led by guard Jeremy Senglin, who had 14 points. Berry and forward Joel Bolomboy contributed 12 points each.
The Wildcats finished shooting 43 percent from the field and had 10 second-chance points. They gave up 13 turnovers and were outscored 44-26 in the paint.
“The way we beat them was terrific,” Eustachy said. “This team is an NCAA tournament team. We just beat a team that is going to end up in the NCAA tournament, and I couldn’t be happier.”
The Wildcats will now take a week off before facing Utah State University on Nov. 26 at the Dee Events Center. Tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m.