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A dunk by Wildcat center Zach Braxton flies in the faces of Northern Colorado defenders. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

Northern Colorado University had a chip on their shoulder coming into this game, with an 0–11 record inside the Dee Events Center. With NCAA tournament hopes on the line, the Wildcats were determined to take down a Northern Colorado team on a hot streak, which they did with a final score of 71–66.

“That was one heck of a college basketball game,” said head coach Randy Rahe. “It was a fun atmosphere and it was a fun game to be a part of.”

From the tip-off, it seemed like there was a lid on the hoop for Weber, with the team shooting 8–24 from the field, including 1–8 from beyond the 3-point line. The ’Cats made only four trips to the free throw line in the first half.

Keeping the Wildcats to a measly 19 points in the first half was a huge confidence boost for Northern Colorado. The Bears, who led by as much as 14 in the first half, were able to get to the basket with ease, scoring 18 of their 29 first half points inside the paint.

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Jerrick Harding, center, jumps for a layup. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The bright spot for the Bears was junior guard Jordan Davis, who led the team with 10 first half points and added four rebounds. WSU sophomore guard Jerrick Harding was still manning the team, despite their first-half struggles.

“Coach Rahe told us to just keep grinding,” Harding said. “We weren’t scoring a lot in the first half; we were getting great shots, they just weren’t going in. He said ‘just stick with it and the shots will eventually fall.’”

Weber State has cultivated a reputation for being a secondhalf team, and they came out of the locker room firing. The ’Cats were able to come all the way back and take a five point lead with 10 minutes to go in regulation.

This sudden rejuvenation of the Wildcats offense was led by junior big man Zach Braxton. After missing his first three shots of the game and scoring just six points in the first half, Braxton showed why he is one of the best big men in the Big Sky Conference.

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Zach Braxton jumps to block a layup by Bears guard Jordan Davis. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

Braxton shot 8–11 from the field and dominated the paint in the second half, finishing the game with a career-high 25 points and 13 rebounds. This domination led to Braxton’s sixth double-double of the season.

With the Bears up by two and only five seconds left in the game, Harding sunk two free throws to tie the game at 61 and send it into overtime.

From that point on, the defensive intensity turned up for the Wildcats, especially for junior Brekkot Chapman, who finished the game with five blocks.

“That’s just what he does; Brekkot’s all over the place. He’s going to give you his heart and soul on the defensive end regardless of how things are going,” Braxton said. “If you’re driving into him, he’s going to try and throw it.”

With 18 seconds left on the clock in overtime, a Jerrick Harding floater essentially sealed the game for WSU. The sophomore guard finished with 23 points on 50 percent shooting and added five rebounds and three steals.

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Waldo climbs the basket to rile up the crowd. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

“I feel like this is the biggest test we’ve had all year,” Harding said. “We battled through and I feel like we grew a lot as a team being resilient through all the adversity that we dealt with tonight.”

The win gives the Wildcats a 10–2 Big Sky Conference record as they head into their next game, facing Portland State University on Feb. 15. The ’Cats will return to Ogden for their game on Feb. 22 against Eastern Washington University for their final homestead of the season.

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