With six players in double figures, the young, battle-tested Wildcats came together to pull out an 84–79 victory against the veteran Vikings of Portland State.
The Vikings had two chances to tie the game in the second half. With 21 seconds left, the Vikings were down by two. With 7 seconds left, they were down by three. Impenetrable interior defense by the Wildcats kept Portland State from being able to capitalize on those opportunities, however, and despite giving up 13 turnovers, the Wildcats walked away with the win.
Great defense was the story of the first half, which ended with both teams shooting under 37 percent and losing a combined 13 turnovers. One of Portland State’s biggest scoring threats, Bryce Canda, averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds per game, starting the game 0–5 from the field.
The Wildcats were also visibly rattled in the first half. “We had to get adjusted to their athleticism and their pace of play because it’s so sped up,” said Weber State head coach Randy Rahe. “We haven’t played a game like that all year, where a team presses for 40 minutes straight.”
Rahe said he felt like the offense was rushed in the first half, which may have led to the lack of offense and numerous turnovers.
The Vikings offense found its rhythm in the second half with a colossal contribution from star guard Deontae North. North finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
On the Weber State side, guard Ricky Nelson was the spark for the Wildcats in the second half, finishing the game with 17 points on an efficient 5–6 shooting.
“My coaches and teammates have done a great job of picking me up all year through my ups and downs,” Nelson said. “I just had a lot of confidence tonight, and I think that helped.”
Ryan Richardson’s 17 points and Brekkott Chapman’s double-double played a vital role in helping the Wildcats get the conference win.
“It’s just another win for us,” Richardson said. “We look at every team the same. We come in, see who we got that night, and we’re going to give them our best. it doesn’t matter who it is.”
The Wildcats have won five of their last six games and have moved from third place to second in the Big Sky Conference. Weber State visits Idaho State on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. as they look to improve on their 12–7 record. After a string of away games, the Wildcats will be back at the Dee Events Center on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. to host North Dakota.