Tempers flared as time expired, both teams congregated at center court to quarrel over the ending, but in the end, it was a loss for the Weber State Wildcats. The Eastern Washington Eagles flew into Ogden and spoiled senior night for the ‘Cats with an 80–77 victory on Mar. 9.
With 1:40 remaining in the game, Weber trailed 75–71. Junior guard Jerrick Harding converted a four-point play after a deep three and foul to tie the game at 75.
“The biggest thing going through my head (after the made free throw) was ‘We got to get a stop,’” said Harding. “We got to get a stop and find a way to win this game.”
With under a minute to play, Harding returned to the free throw line to hit two free throws and give the Wildcats a 77–76 lead.
WSU forced an empty Eagles possession but missed at the other end. EWU senior forward Jesse Hunt was fouled with 18 seconds left and made both from the line to give his team a one-point lead.
The ‘Cats called a time out with 16 seconds left to regroup and call a play. Harding took on two defenders at the top of the key and kicked it out to the wing to junior guard Cody John for a wide-open look. His attempt went off the rim and the Eagles converted on two more free throws after a foul.
“We knew they were going to load up on Jerrick,” said head coach Randy Rahe. “So we wanted to run something to try to get Cody free. He couldn’t have been more open, shot goes in and out. It was down, then comes out. Sometimes that is the way it goes.”
John’s last-second three-point attempt fell short, as the Wildcats lost for the fourth time in five games to close the regular season. Tensions between the teams were still high during the handshake line. A post-game argument escalated into near-physical altercation, but was stopped by the more level-headed team members and onlookers.
Before the end of the game, Weber started the game hot, going on a quick 15–2 run with the help of 10 points from John. The fiery start for the ‘Cats dwindled as they went into half time with just a two-point lead.
Harding and John both led the team with 24 points apiece. The two combined to go 7 for 13 from the three-point line. Freshman guard Caleb Nero came off the bench to give the ‘Cats eight points, two boards and a steal.
Seniors Zach Braxton and Brekkott Chapman had off nights on their Senior Night at the Dee Events Center. Between the two veterans, they only scored 11 points, shooting 1-6 from the floor.
The loss to the Eagles came at the heels of a blowout victory on Thursday against the Idaho Vandals. Harding led the scoring outburst with 22 points as WSU rolled to a 93–59 win.
Harding was just one of five Wildcat players in double figures. Chapman, Zach Braxton, John and Dima Zdor all joined Harding in the scoring surge.
As the conference tournament starts Mar. 11, Weber State heads to Boise, Idaho to play and have a chance to dance and join March Madness in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will take on the Portland State Vikings in the first round of the conference tourney on Mar. 14.