The Weber State University men’s basketball team started strong but faded away in the second half of their game Saturday as they lost to Sacramento State University 78-71.
“Right now, we’re battling a little bit of a confidence issue. I knew coming into this season this was the youngest team I have ever had, and I knew we were going to have a lot of peaks and valleys,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We’re in a big valley right now, but we’re going to find a way to dig out of it.”
The loss Saturday extended the Wildcats’ losing streak to three games — the first time WSU has lost three straight conference games since 2006. It was also the first time the Wildcats have lost back-to-back home games under WSU coach Randy Rahe.
“We just came out trying to fight,” said sophomore Jeremy Senglin. “We didn’t bring that last game. We just knew that we had to come out and fight if we wanted to have an opportunity.”
The Wildcats outshot the Hornets in the first half 54 percent to 50 percent, and also won the rebound battle 15-12. Despite the statistical edge, Weber State and Sacramento State entered halftime tied 37-37.
“I felt like our guys played tougher tonight. We had great team spirit, but it just wasn’t enough,” Rahe said. “It looked to me like we didn’t play defense with a lot of confidence, and I got to get that fixed.”
Sacramento State came out firing in the second half, led by senior guard Mikh McKinney who scored 27 points in the second half alone. McKinney was 8-9 from the field in the second half and a perfect 5-5 from three-point range. As a team the Hornets shot 73 percent from the field in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats 41-34 on the way to their first win in Ogden since 2006.
“We just have to get better defensively and just go from there,” junior Joel Bolomboy said. “We gotta try harder and find some way to get the stops, get every rebound and stay together.”
After shooting 54 percent from the field in the first half, the Wildcats shot 42 percent from the field in the second half, and were only 1-10 from three-point range.
Bolomboy led the Wildcats in the loss with a career-high 21 points while also pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.
“I really liked how Joel played,” Rahe said. “I thought he was very assertive. He really got in there and just fought, which is what we wanted all of our guys to do.”
Senglin finished the game with 15 points for his ninth game in a row of 14 or more points. Juniors Chris Golden and Jaelyn Johnson-Coston also scored double-digit points for the Wildcats, as Golden scored 11 or more points for the eighth time this season and Johnson-Coston set a season-high mark with 10 points.
“(Johnson-Coston) was ready to play tonight, and we put him in there and he gave us a great spark,” Rahe said. “So I was really proud of him for that. He deserved to be out there, and because of that he’ll get more opportunities.”
The Wildcats (8-11, 3-4 conference) will head out east this week as they go on the road to face North Dakota (6-12, 2-5) on Thursday and Northern Colorado (9-8, 4-2) on Saturday.
“Time is not on our side now,” Bolomboy said “So we’re just trying to go out there and get every win we can.”