Despite a huge 56-point second half, including 27 by Jerrick Harding, the Weber State University mens’s basketball could not come back from a 20-point first half deficit and fell to Montana, 83–80.
“They win the first half. We win the second half,” said head coach Randy Rahe. “I told our team, I would sure like to see what we could do if we put two halves of basketball the way we play together and show this team what we could do.”
In result of bad shooting and turnovers, the ‘Cats fell behind by 16, and as much as 20 to the Grizzlies, who currently sit first in the Big Sky. Weber State shot just 28 percent from the field and just 22 percent from beyond the arc in the first half.
“The game plan was to come out and be aggressive,” Harding said. “I feel like we didn’t follow the game plan, we got to give them two halves.”
Montana started out hot, going on a 13–2 run to begin the game. They extended their lead to double digits with 12 minutes left in the first half and kept the lead the rest of the half.
“They were the faster, more aggressive team in the first half, we were the faster, more aggressive team in the second half,” Rahe said. “The advantage always goes to the team that plays more aggressive, plays faster, and is on the attack.”
The Wildcats made a hard push in the second half cutting the lead down to seven in the first 10 minutes. Harding scored led the Wildcats with 16 of the 31 points, going 11-12 from the field.
Thanks to a made 3-point shoot by Brekkott Chapman with 4:30 left in the game, the ‘Cats got within six points. Cody John went to the free-throw line on the following possession and made both free throws, cutting the lead to just four.
With two minutes left Harding made a contested layup to get the ‘Cats within three. The Grizz answered back with two made free throws. The lead was back to five with under two minutes to play.
As the clock hit 1:30 to play, Michael Kozak, scored on a low post move, cutting the lead to three. Off a Grizzly turnover, Cody John made a contested break away layup with one minute left, the ‘Cats were within one.
On a beautiful up and under post move, Montana’s Sayeed Pridgett pushed the lead back to three for Montana, but John answered right back with a made shot for the Wildcats. Weber was down just one with 14 ticks on the clock.
Weber then fouled Montana, sending Kendal Manuel to the line. Manuel made both clutch free throws, giving the Grizz a three-point cushion with 13 seconds left. Harding missed the potential game tying shot for Weber, and the ‘Cats lost by three.
“I feel like we have been really inconsistent, game-to-game, half to half. We have to sure that up,” mentioned Harding. “It’s the end of the season, we can’t have mental break downs like had, especially against a good team like Montana.”
Weber currently sits at third in the Big Sky with just six conference games remaining on the season. The ‘Cats look to get back on track Saturday night when they host Montana State.