In a grind-it-out type of game, the Weber State University men’s basketball team came one shot short of a win when it fell 78-75 in overtime to Idaho State University. There were 16 ties and 18 lead changes in the game.
“We lost a hard-fought game,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We have to come back and get ready for practice and try to get better. We made some stops to keep ourselves alive — we just didn’t make enough of them. We didn’t defend very well.”
The Wildcats were unable to get inside early in the game. They began to force up 3-pointers that didn’t drop, falling behind 6-2 early.
WSU cut down the lead on three quick buckets from freshman Jeremy Senglin, including two from the 3-point line. The Wildcats took their first lead seven minutes into the game on free throws from freshman Kyndahl Hill.
The teams went back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the game as both teams traded buckets. The game was tied six times, and there were seven lead changes in the first half.
Richaud Gittens led WSU early on. He had seven early points to keep the game tied 24-24 with eight minutes left in the first half.
The Bengals then went on a 7-2 run to push their lead to five with three minutes left in the half.
Coming out of a timeout, the Wildcats responded by ending the half on a 6-0 run, which included a 3-pointer from Senglin at the buzzer. The Wildcats took a 32-31 lead into halftime.
Senglin finished the half with 14 points to lead all scorers. Gittens added seven points for WSU.
Junior Chris Hansen had nine points and three rebounds to lead ISU. The Bengals made nine of their first 12 baskets in the game, most of them at short range. They cooled off to finish the half, shooting 57 percent from the field.
“We let them get going a little bit and get their confidence early in the game, and they played with confidence throughout,” Rahe said. “We can’t start out the game that way defensively, especially on someone else’s court. Their confidence level early on was sky-high, and they made just about everything they threw up there.”
The lead again changed hands multiple times in the first part of the second half. The Wildcats committed multiple turnovers. The Bengals took advantage of the miscues and pushed their lead to 40-34.
But the Wildcats quietly put together a 14-3 run to retake the lead. Senior Davion Berry led the charge with two 3-point plays. With 11 minutes to go, the Wildcats had a 51-49 lead.
The teams continued to play Hot Potato with the lead for the next several minutes. The Bengals still had success in the paint, but the Wildcats matched them bucket for bucket. WSU had a 63-60 lead with five minutes to go.
The Wildcats turned up their defensive intensity late in the game. Senior Kyle Tresnak had four blocks in the game. The Bengals matched their intensity and kept the game tied 68-68 with two minutes left.
With 18 seconds to go, the score was tied at 70 and ISU had the ball. The Wildcat defense held strong, and the game went into overtime.
The Bengals were the first to strike in the overtime period. The Wildcats then scored the next two baskets, but quickly gave the lead away on a 3-pointer by Hansen. Hansen hit another three, this one over the 6-foot-10 Tresnak, to give ISU a three-point lead with a minute left.
“He is a lot taller than I thought he was,” Hansen said. “Thank goodness it went in. I have worked on the high-arching shot. When you practice something like that, you have it to rely on.”
After a failed possession, the Wildcats got a stop, but Berry missed a three in the final seconds to give ISU the win.
“You have to give Idaho State all the credit, because they beat us,” Berry said. “We couldn’t make the stops when we needed to.”
Hansen led all scorers with 27 points for ISU, including 4-4 from downtown. He also had four rebounds and two assists.
Berry filled the stat sheet for the Wildcats. He had 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. Senglin added 18 for WSU.
The Wildcats will conclude their road trip on Saturday as they face Montana State University. That game can be heard on 1430 AM or 103.1 FM.