In a shift from their usual sharp-shooting strategy, the Wildcats attacked the basket from inside the arc, beating Northern Colorado by a score of 69–63 in a matchup on Feb. 16.
The game started slow, with both teams scoring only 10 points each in the first 8 minutes.
As the Wildcats realized their usual three-point prowess wouldn’t win this game, the were forced to adapt to win.
“My job is to come in and try to be a spark,” freshman Jerrick Harding said. “That’s what my mindset was when I came into the game.”
The Wildcat bench contributed 19 points to the victory against the Bears. According to head coach Randy Rahe, the bench performance was the difference maker in the game.
The Wildcats shot for 42.3 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from behind the three-point line in the first half. Similarly, the Bears made 43.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent of shots from behind the arc.
“This type of night happens to shooters,” sophomore Zach Braxton said. “We’re not worried about it at all.”
The game remained close throughout the first half, and when the teams went to the locker room, the Wildcats led with a score of 32–28.
Northern Colorado won the battle in the paint, with 36 of their 63 points coming from near the basket.
With the longer shots not falling, it was up to the big men to get the job done. Braxton finished the game with 16 points, and senior Kyndahl Hill led the team with 19.
“‘It’s fun every night playing down there,” Braxton said. “It’s physical. I thought Kyndahl and I held them pretty well.”
The Bears challenged the Weber State offense with a full court press for a majority of the first half.
Despite the press, the Bears stole the ball only three times in the first half, converting four points from the turnovers.
The Bears stole the show early in the second half, sprinting out to an eight point lead.
Northern Colorado held that lead for most of the half until the Wildcats clawed their way back.
Harding made a go-ahead three with seven minutes left in the game. He kept the fire going as he made a fast break layup on the next possession.
A three-point play by Hill capped what came out to be a 12–0 run by the Wildcats.
“We don’t win the game without that spark,” Rahe said of the run that led the Wildcats back into the game.
The Bears were not to be caged though, and they tied the game at 63 points apiece with 1:20 left to play.
After being fouled on a rebound under the Northern Colorado basket, Hill made a pair of free throws, giving the Wildcats a 65–63 lead.
Hill made all six free throws in the final minute of the game, ending the game with a final score of 69–63.