Despite an inspiring start to the night, the Weber State University men’s basketball team could not keep their opponent away and dropped their home finale to the Idaho Vandals by a final score of 68–62.
The Wildcats honored the two seniors, Dusty Baker and Ryan Richardson, before the game with framed jerseys and visits from their families.
“I’m really proud of their effort tonight and I’m really proud that they’re Weber State Wildcats,” head coach Randy Rahe said. “They were terrific tonight, they’re great kids and they’re perfect Weber State-type players.”
The Vandals came into the game with more overall experience than the Wildcats, as their six seniors make them the second oldest team in the country.
From the tip-off, Weber State oozed a mixture of confidence and swagger in their final home game of the season. Richardson and Baker started the Wildcats night off strong, each swishing their own 3-point shots on the first two possessions of the contest.
Overall, the Wildcats made their first five shots of the game, three of the five being 3-pointers.
Junior Brekkott Chapman turned the crowd volume up early in the first half with a vicious shot block that left the Vandals stunned.
The Vandals struggled offensively in the first half, shooting only 33.3 percent from the field. The Wildcats did their part to provide testy defense, but the Vandals also helped their opponents by consistently missing open shots throughout the half.
The Wildcats looked to be the victor early, as they led by as many as 10 points in the first half. Despite losing a large lead and allowing the Vandals to tie the game at 32 apiece after a Vandals’ 16–6 run, the Wildcats put in two strong minutes to finish out the half leading 37–32.
Despite the ’Cats confidence, the Vandals had found their rhythm both offensively and defensively as the second half began. Even though Wildcats were still playing stout defense and maintaining their lead, Idaho began to chip away at the lead.
“They’re a good defensive team, but I just feel like we had open shots that normally go in, and they just didn’t go in tonight. So, you’ve just got to tip your cap to them and make it up the next time you play them,” Rahe said.
The Vandals found their first lead of the game with 11 minutes left to play in the second half. It was all Vandals from then on as Idaho played with efficiency, eventually leading 60–55 over Weber State.
Although they nearly could not miss in the first half, the Wildcats struggled mightily shooting the ball in the second half. At one point in the final minutes, Weber State had missed eight field goals in a row. Perhaps even more surprising, they did not score for over six minutes of game time.
“On offense, they kind of slowed it down and very methodically used the clock,” Baker said. “So, we’re a high-paced team — we like to play fast. I think they did a good job of taking us out of that, and even then we’re only a couple shots away from winning the game.”
Despite a 3-point shot by Chapman that cut the Idaho lead to only two, the Vandals held strong in the final minutes and claimed the 68–62 victory.
Weber State has now lost its last two games after their nine-game winning streak was snapped by Southern Utah University.
Richardson finished his senior night with 17 total points, including five 3-pointers. Richardson also became the 33rd player in Weber State history to reach 1,000 career points.
Baker, who was also celebrating his birthday, provided 14 points on five baskets. He added five combined rebounds and dished out a team-high eight assists. The next closest on the stat sheet for dimes was Richardson with three.
Chapman ended with a double-double on the night, contributing 11 points combined with a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats now close out the regular season on the road with stops at Montana and Montana State before traveling to Reno, Nevada for the Big Sky Tournament. WSU has now clinched a first round bye in the tournament.
Although the Wildcats are only guaranteed three more games, Baker said, “We’ve got five games left. Maybe six.”
Richardson agreed with his fellow senior, saying, “I like that answer.”