In the team’s only exhibition game of the year, the Wildcats hosted the Western State Colorado University Mountaineers on Nov. 2. The ’Cats picked up an 84–77 victory.
The Wildcats are coming off a season where they went 20–14 and were one win away from being Big Sky conference champions. This season, the Wildcats brought in seven freshman to join a team rife with youth, featuring only two seniors.
The Wildcats shot out of the locker room with energy, putting pressure on WSCU early and often. WSU piled up 52 points and shot 70 percent from the field, from beyond the 3-point line and from behind the free throw line. For head coach Randy Rahe, the first half was important in setting the tone for the team.
Rahe said, “We played terrific in the first half. I thought the guys were flying around. On both ends in the first half, we played with great energy.”
The Wildcats’ first half scoring attack was led by junior forward Brekkott Chapman, who pitched in 16 points while sophomore guard Jerrick Harding added in 14 points of his own.
WSU came out locked in on defense, allowing only 26 points on 37 percent shooting from the field. The Wildcats were able to contain the three point shooting in the first half, only allowing 3 makes on 11 attempts.
Getting off to a quick start allowed the Wildcats to get in a groove and build up a sizable lead in the first half.
Unfortunately for WSU, the second half was a different story. The Wildcats, who were up 52–26 at the half, nearly fell apart in the second half.
The Mountaineers were able to gain momentum and maintain it for most of the second half, putting up 51 points and going 20–22 from the free throw line. For the Wildcats, Harding scored a team high 26 points while also pacing the team with his six assists.
Harding said, “The second half we just lost our energy, we weren’t talking on defense, we had a lot of letups and we gave up threes, which we don’t usually do.”
In the second half, the Wildcats scored 32 points on 38 percent shooting, while making only 12 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. The ’Cats did lead for 38 total minutes, including the final one, giving the team the win.
Chapman finished the game as the second highest scorer, with 20 points. He was positive there was no panic in the locker room after the second half struggle.
Chapman said, “We’re a team, it’s the first game and we’ll keep getting better.”
The next game for the Wildcats will be at home against Utah State on Nov. 10. In their last two matchups, the Wildcats and Aggies have each claimed one victory, with WSU taking the victory in Logan last season.