The WSU men’s basketball team wrapped up its preseason schedule on Saturday, as the Wildcats defeated Western State 78-63 in an exhibition match.
“Things are feeling good,” said junior Chris Golden. “In practice we play hard for each other, so when we get to the game, it just ramps it up even more.”
The star of the game for the Wildcats was junior Joel Bolomboy, who put up a double-double for the second game in a row with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Bolomboy’s 23 points and 10 rebounds were both game highs as he also tied for the game high in both blocks (one) and steals (two).
“It’s always good to see your hard work,” Bolomboy said. “I was just glad to contribute to the team, to the victory.”
Bolomboy was 8-8 from the field in the first half, as he scored the Wildcats’ first nine points of the game, and 13 of the team’s first 15 points.
“Joel, he’s a beast. Once he gets going, there’s no stopping him,” Golden said. “He was just feeling it tonight. He was a monster.”
After struggling in the first half, missing all five shots from the field, Golden was 4-4 in the second half, including 3-3 from three-point range. He finished the night with 13 points and four rebounds, while tying for the team lead with five assists. Sophomore Jeremy Senglin was the third Wildcat to score double-digit points in the win, finishing with 13 points while also pulling down four rebounds and making four assists. Freshman Hayden Hunter came off the bench to play for 23 minutes, and put together a solid performance with two points and two rebounds, while tying for the game high with five assists.
As a team, the Wildcats showed improvement from their exhibition match against St. Katherine the week before. After having 17 turnovers against St. Katherine, the Wildcats only had nine turnovers against Western State. Weber State also improved on its shooting percentage, shooting .554 (31-56) from the field and .556 (5-9) from three-point range as opposed to the week before when they shot .490 from the field (24-49) and .222 from three-point range (4-18).
“I thought we got better in some areas,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “Offensively I liked our assists to turnover (ratio), we’ve been working on that. We had 18 assists and nine turnovers, and two of those turnovers happened really late with a couple of young kids that checked in. Offensively, we’re not playing with a great flow right now, but I think we’re getting closer. Defensively I thought our effort was pretty good. We got to plug some more holes, but I thought overall we did a little better.”
The Wildcats’ next game will be one that counts, as they open their regular-season schedule on the road at Utah State on Friday night. The Wildcats are 26-39 all-time against the Aggies, and have lost six of their last seven matches against USU. Weber State also traditionally has not had much success playing in Logan, as they are 8-23 all-time at Utah State, with their last win at USU coming on December 7, 1993. Looking forward to the tough matchup, Bolomboy said that the team just needs to focus on working hard in practice.
“We have to get our defense better,” Bolomboy said. “And then we’re going to be on the road, so that’s going to be a tough environment to play in. Just keep doing what we do every single day.”