The Weber State University men’s basketball team got its fifth win of the season Saturday, defeating Portland State University 79-62. The win brought the Wildcats to 5-5 on the season and 2-0 in the Big Sky Conference.
“I was really pleased with our guys, especially in the second half,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “I think we are still getting a lot of good contributions from everybody. It was a team win.”
The Wildcats were the first on the board as sophomore Joel Bolomboy had a putback layup. The Wildcats had the early height advantage, seemingly towering over the visiting Vikings.
Points were sparse to begin the game, with each team scoring just two field goals in the first five minutes. The score was 5-4 in favor of PSU at that point.
The Wildcat offense was sparked off of the bench as senior guard Jordan Richardson hit three consecutive 3-pointers, giving the Wildcats a six-point lead with 12 minutes to go in the half.
“I just come in and try to contribute to my team the best I can,” Richardson said, “whether it is playing defense (or) rebounding. I was fortunate to make some shots tonight, finally. I’m just trying to contribute.”
The Wildcats continued to put the pressure on the Vikings defensively, forcing several turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Wildcats pushed their lead to 19-9 midway through the half.
“Those shots kind of loosened our team up a little bit,” Rahe said. “We started to play a little bit better against the zone after that.”
The Vikings climbed back into the game with a run of their own. PSU scored five unanswered points, catching the Wildcat defense out of position.
The Wildcats continued to get a spark off of their bench as freshman Kyndahl Hill put in two quick buckets. The Wildcats again had a 10-point lead with two minutes left in the half.
“Our bench has been big the last two or three games,” Rahe said. “What it does, when you get that spark, it gives everyone else confidence. The starters get more confident. It’s huge to get some production, whatever it is. I’m pleased about how our bench has come along.”
Hill kept finding open lanes under the hoop and was hit once again right before halftime, converting an old-fashioned 3-point play, guiding the Wildcats into a nine-point lead at halftime, 36-27.
Richardson led all scorers at the half with nine points. Hill added seven points and four rebounds for the Wildcats.
“It’s nice to have some veterans come off the bench who have been in the trenches and been in the war a little bit,” Rahe said. “I think that’s helped us a little bit. Jordan has done a great job.”
DaShaun Wiggins led all Vikings scorers with six points and four rebounds. Tim Douglas added five points and three rebounds.
The Vikings came out firing in the second half, scoring the first five points of the half, climbing back to within four.
The Wildcats took the momentum right back as senior guard Davion Berry caught fire in the second half. Berry scored nine straight points for the Wildcats, pushing the lead back to 10 with 14 minutes to go.
“I stayed aggressive,” Berry said. “The coaches and the players on the team told me to just stay aggressive and keep playing my game.”
WSU gained momentum with two consecutive dunks, one from Bolomboy and one from Hill. But their momentum halted due to early foul trouble, which slowed down the game.
Midway through the second half, the Vikings trimmed a 12-point lead down to just five. But WSU quickly jumped back into the game with a 3-pointer and a three-point play from freshman Jeremy Senglin, pushing the lead back to 11.
The lead was pushed to as many as 20 late in the half as the Wildcats continued to knock down their 3-pointers. The starters received a standing ovation from the crowd as they were pulled in the final two minutes. The final score was 79-62 in favor of WSU.
Berry led all scorers with 21 points. Senglin had 13 points and eight assists. Richardson finished with 12 points on four 3-point field goals. Wiggins led the Vikings with 16 points.
The Wildcats will now go on the road to face the University of Northern Colorado on Thursday. They will return home Jan. 18 to face Southern Utah University.