The Weber State men’s basketball team traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands over the weekend, where they participated in the Paradise Jam. Despite coming off a win in their home opener, the Wildcats were 1-2 in the tournament.
The tournament started on Friday night when the Wildcats faced Illinois State. The Wildcats started strong and were leading 15-13 after five minutes of play, when Illinois State fought back and held a 16-point lead going into halftime. They continued to blow past WSU, as the Wildcats struggled until a late surge brought them within striking distance. The rally came up short, and the Wildcats fell 73-64
Weber State shot 42 percent from the field but had 18 turnovers in the game. WSU was also outrebounded 34-27 and shot just 3-for-12 from three-point range. Junior Joel Bolomboy once again led Weber State, finishing with 20 points to match his career high. Bolomboy was 3-of-7 from the field and finished 14-of-15 from the free throw line. He also pulled down nine rebounds.
“We need to learn to fight harder in the first half,”said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We didn’t fight hard enough and didn’t compete hard enough in the first half. We came back and played tougher in the second half but we have to play that way the entire game.”
The Wildcats moved on to play LSU Saturday afternoon where they lost to the Tigers 72-58.
After being down 26-16 with five minutes left in the first half, the Wildcats went on an 11-2 run to put them within one at the half. LSU responded by shooting 9-for-10 from the field to open up the second half. After the Wildcats tied the game at 41-41 with 14 minutes left in the game, LSU went on a 12-3 run and never looked back from that point on. LSU finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field as compared to 42 percent shooting from the Wildcats.
“I thought we really got back to competing and fighting today,” Rahe said. “They competed really hard and gave us a chance so I was pleased with their effort. LSU is a really good basketball team and they made the shots when they needed to. We made some mistakes and missed some shots but I thought we challenged them and executed our offense better today.”
After back-to-back losses, the Wildcats wrapped up the tournament on Monday afternoon as they defeated the Nevada Wolfpack 59-56.
Weber State shot 40 percent from the field, compared to 35 percent shooting for Nevada. WSU knocked down six three-pointers and the Wildcats were 15-for-19 from the free throw line.
“It was a great team win for us and I was really proud of how hard we fought and how we competed,” said coach Rahe. “We couldn’t get a lot of looks but we were able to find a way to win the game. A lot of guys really stepped up and contributed for us to pull it out. Our team grew up and got tougher today and that’s what we needed.”
The Wildcats are now 2-3 on the season and will return home to face Oral Roberts at the Dee Events Center on Monday Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. The game is free for the student body with ID and tickets start at $8 for the general public.