In the last meeting between the men’s basketball teams of Weber State University and California State University, Sacramento, the Wildcats lost on a buzzer-beater at the end of overtime. On Thursday, the Wildcats didn’t leave the game in doubt, leaving with a 79-67 win in a game where they never trailed.
“We knew that we owed them something,” said WSU senior Davion Berry. “We had our juices flowing for this game because of what happened last game. It feels good to beat them.”
The win gave the Wildcats at least a share of the Big Sky Conference regular-season title. It also was the 27th consecutive home win against a conference opponent, setting a new Big Sky record.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “It’s hard to do. It speaks volumes to the kind of players we have. We take a lot of pride in our home court. Once you have that pride in your program and the kids really feel it and you have good players and a good coaching staff, then you are able to accomplish something like that.”
The Wildcats got out to a quick start, scoring the first seven points of the game. Both teams were sloppy with the ball early, but the Wildcats were the only team to cash in on the mistakes.
After missing their first two shots, the Hornets got on the board and closed the gap by attacking the basket. Six of their first eight points came in the paint.
The Wildcats were lights-out from behind the arc to begin the game, making four of their first five shots from long range. With 11 minutes remaining in the half, the Wildcats held a 25-17 lead. WSU led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
The Hornets were able to bring the Wildcat lead back down to just three points with six minutes remaining in the half, aided by second-chance points and free throws.
The teams took turns going on mini runs near the end of the half. The Hornets went on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to just two points with two minutes left. But the Wildcats ended the half on a 5-0 run to take a 41-34 lead into halftime.
CSUS junior Mikh McKinney led all scorers with 13 points. He also had six assists. Cody Demps added seven points for CSUS.
The Wildcats shot 58 percent from the field in the first half. Freshmen Kyndahl Hill and Jeremy Senglin had nine points apiece for WSU. Berry had five points and a game-high seven assists. The Wildcats had 10 assists on 14 field goals in the first half.
“We were sharing the basketball and giving each other good looks,” said WSU sophomore Joel Bolomboy. “We turned down the first shot to get a better shot.”
The Wildcats came out strong in the second half, scoring the first six points to give themselves their largest lead of the game. But the Hornets once again clawed their way back into the game, getting to within four points with 10 minutes remaining.
“Sacramento State was the hottest team in the league coming in,” Rahe said. “They keep fighting, keep scratching, keep clawing. They constantly believe that they are going to win the game. We give them a lot of credit for being able to come back into the game and make it close.”
The Wildcats were relentless, however, both on the offensive and the defensive end. Five minutes later, the lead was back to double digits. Senior Kyle Tresnak continued to have success inside, getting easy transition dunks. The Wildcats pushed their lead to as many as 15 in the final minutes.
The Hornets were aggressive on the defensive end in the final two minutes, looking to steal the ball. But the Wildcats took care of the ball and made their free throws to get the win.
Berry led the Wildcats with 20 points. He also dished out a career-high 11 assists. Tresnak finished with 18 points for WSU. McKinney finished with a game-high 21 points and a team-high nine assists for the Hornets.
“My teammates helped me out,” Berry said. “A lot of credit goes to those guys, because obviously it was those guys who put the ball in the basket. I’m more than a willing passer, and that’s what was open tonight.”
The Wildcats played against Northern Arizona University on Saturday. That game will be covered in the Wednesday issue of The Signpost. Results will also be on www.wsusignpost.com and Twitter.