In the final game of the first ever Beehive Classic, the Weber State University men’s basketball team and the Brigham Young University Cougars went down to the wire. The Cougars won the matchup 74–68 in the Vivint Smart Home Arena on Dec. 9.
“We just had to show up and really fight, and that was kind of the message,” senior Dusty Baker said.
The last time the Wildcats and Cougars went head-to-head was Dec. 7, 2016, when BYU came away with the victory. The Wildcats have not taken down BYU since 2003.
Before the game tipped off, the Wildcats were already behind, as the team was missing juniors Zach Braxton and Brekkot Chapman to injuries. Both players were injured in the team’s loss to Utah Valley University on Dec. 6. Braxton missed the game with an achilles strain and Chapman was sidelined with a foot sprain.
The game started off with a bang, as Weber State jumped out to an early 6–0 lead with back-to-back 3-pointers from Baker and sophomore center Jordan Dallas. The 3-pointer was the first of Dallas’ career. For the rest of the first half, the Wildcats looked to sophomore point guard Jerrick Harding.
“I feel like I had to step up and be that leader,” Harding said. “I’m the point guard, and I have to set the tone from the start.”
He shot 8 of 13 in the first half, leading the Wildcats with 16 points. Late in the first half, the Cougars went to one of their newest weapons — junior point guard, and Weber State transfer, McKay Cannon.
“I still love those guys so I was battling emotions,” Cannon said of playing against Weber State.
Cannon ended the game with six points, making two 3-pointers. He also added one rebound and two assists, while playing 28 minutes.
“I’m really happy for McKay, I love the kid to death,” head coach Randy Rahe said of Cannon. “When that kid plays with a chip on his shoulder, he’s a damn good player and he’s playing like it right now.”
The Wildcats also shot 21.4 percent from 3-point range, while BYU shot 60 percent from beyond the arc. When the first half had ended, the Wildcats trailed the Cougars 36–32. In the second half it was more of the same for Weber State.
With only eight active players for WSU, they fought to stay tight with a BYU team that came into the game on a four game winning streak. The game came down to the final minute, as the Wildcats trailed by as few as two.
BYU made all of their free throws in the final minute, forcing Harding and the Wildcats to try and keep the game alive. On their last play of the game it was Harding who drove down the court, splitting two defenders through contact and losing the ball out of bounds.
“There should’ve been a call, but hey, you don’t get every call,” Harding said.
Despite the loss, it was Harding who shined, scoring 29 points on 20 shots. His 29 points were the most of any player in the game.
The only other Wildcats to score in double digits were Baker, who scored 13, and senior guard Ryan Richardson, who scored 10 points. As a team, the Wildcats shot only 12 free throws, while the Cougars attempted 20 shots from the foul line.
Harding said, “It felt like that during the game, I was thinking like we need to get to the free throw line.”
Freshman power forward Michal Kozak was the team leader in rebounds, grabbing eight total, with three on offense. Three Wildcats tied for the team lead for assists. Richardson, Kozak and Baker all had three assists for the ’Cats.
The next game for the Wildcats will be on Dec. 16 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Ogden. The Golden Lions are 0–10 on the season, and will play Fresno State before their match with the ’Cats.