The Weber State University men’s basketball team was able to hold off a late run from Idaho State University in Monday night’s game, coming away with a 65-59 win over the Bengals. WSU senior Davion Berry finished with a team-high 23 points and six assists, while Joel Bolomboy cleaned the glass with 16 rebounds.
In the first half, Chris Hansen of ISU went bananas, shooting 5-7 from the field, 3-5 from downtown, accounting for 16 of his team’s 22 first-half points. At 6 feet, 4 inches and 220 pounds, Hansen was not only surprisingly quick, but was also confidently taking his shots from anywhere on the court.
“He got it going in the first half,” Berry said. “When shooters see the ball go in, you’re in for a long night.”
Despite Hansen’s performance, he didn’t get much help from his team. While he shot 71 percent, his team as a whole only shot 30 percent in the first half.
The Wildcats took advantage of a six-minute dry spell from the Bengals and went on a 10-0 run to build their lead to 22-15. Bolomboy sparked the run with a tough 3-point play, and also added in a layup, accounting for half of the run.
However, WSU’s leading scorer, Berry, fell to the ground after going for a rebound and having the 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound Kyle Tresnak land on him, clutching his ankle in pain. After being helped to the locker room by athletic trainer Joel Bass and Bolomboy, Berry returned a few minutes later to play. It was later reported that Berry rolled his ankle.
“I’ve just got to ice it and go through therapy,” Berry said. “When Tres falls on you, that takes a toll on your body.”
The rest of the half was back and forth, with WSU holding the 26-24 lead heading into the locker room.
The second half started out being back and forth as well, but the Wildcats slowly started to put some space in between them and the Bengals, leading by as much as 12 points with six minutes, 18 seconds left in the game.
However, the Bengals responded with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to four with a score of 49-53 with just 3:40 to go in the game.
“I think (ISU is) one of the best teams in the Big Sky,” said WSU senior guard Jordan Richardson. “When they make a run, we know we have to make a run right back. We’ve got to keep focus and play Weber State basketball, and that’s what we did tonight.”
WSU’s junior combo guard, Royce Williams, put an end to the run with a huge 3-pointer to put the Wildcats back up by seven.
“(He) came off the bench and hit three huge threes for us at the right time,” Berry said.
With two minutes to go and WSU up by eight, the hill just seemed too tall to climb for the Bengals, but one man in orange wasn’t about to give up. Hansen drained back-to-back 3-pointers within 40 seconds of each other to cut the lead to just two points, making the score 57-59 with just 39.8 seconds left in the game, giving him the game-high 27 points. The Bengals then fouled Bolomboy, sending him to the line for the one-and-one opportunity.
The first free throw came up short off the iron, and for a moment it seemed a last-second shot would decide the game. Then, out of nowhere, Richardson rose up, grabbed the rebound and was promptly fouled with 34.9 seconds left. Richardson made both free throws, then Berry sealed the deal with a steal and fast-break layup.
“I thought the biggest play of the game was Jordan chasing down that missed free-throw rebound over on the sideline and getting fouled,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “That gave us a little bit of a cushion, and it gave us a chance.”
The Wildcats improved to 6-1 in Big Sky Conference play and 8-6 overall. The Wildcats will host Montana State University on Thursday and the University of Montana on Saturday. Both games will start at 7 p.m.