Coming off a resounding 124-44 win against Yellowstone Christian College the night before, Weber State University returned to Dee Event Center and clawed their way to a 94-79 comeback victory against Tarleton State University on Jan. 17.
After a game where WSU won by 80 points, Tarleton State came to Ogden with a point to prove as the Texans continue through their first season as a division one program with a non-conference game against Weber State.
Just minutes into the game, Weber State center Dontay Bassett received a technical foul, waking both teams up after a slow start.
The game was fairly even as each team traded points and the lead changed 12 times in the first half.
The Texans’ guard, Montre Gipson, punished the Wildcats as he scored 13 points and went 3-3 from behind the arc in the first half. Gipson finished with 26 points and 4-4 three-point shooting.
“He’s [Gipson] a good player. He is a player that we watched a lot of game tape and when he hit his first shot, he got in a rhythm,” Wildcats Head Coach Randy Rahe said.
Tarleton State went on a 7-0 run after Gipson scored a three-point shot in the first half, helping the Texans take a 41-32 lead.
Wildcats guard KJ Cunningham and Texans guard Tahj Small both scored three-pointers before the end of the first half, leaving Tarleton State up 44-35.
“We played a little flat-footed and they [Tarleton State] were so small and athletic that our bigger guys out there had a hard time keeping up. We had to turn the tables and be more aggressive in the second half,” Rahe explained regarding what was said at halftime.
And being more aggressive was what they did.
Gipson made a layup and three-pointer at the beginning of the second half to extend the Texans’ lead to 14 with the score being 49-35.
After that, WSU started tightly defending and putting pressure on the Tarleton State offense, causing the Texans to lose possession.
Weber State forward Cody Carlson scored a layup off a rebound bringing the score to 55-49 and kickstarting a comeback.
WSU would slowly erase the deficit as guard Zahir Porter made two free throws and a three-pointer, giving the Wildcats a 56-55 lead.
Weber State would continue their 10-0 run after guard Isiah Brown scored a free throw and a mid-range jumper to make the score 59-55.
Later on, forward Dillon Jones scored a crucial layup, which helped WSU go into cruise control with the lead 67-63. Jones scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds, both season-highs.
Porter scored yet another three-point shot to to make the score 72-63.
He would end up scoring 13 of the next 15 points Weber State got, including two highlight reel dunks and a side-step three that made the Texans’ guard Shamir Bogues seem to go missing.
Porter would end up scoring 18 out of his 23 points in the second-half.
“I was definitely just feeling it tonight; it was one of my better nights,” Porter said.
Brown found it difficult to score with only five points in the first half, but he would find his groove as the first-year Wildcat put up 16 points in the second half to give him 22 on the night.
After a strong first 20 minutes for Tarleton State, the Wildcats found a way to break the Texans down with overturning a nine point deficit into a 15 point victory.
Weber State had 59 points in the second half compared to only 35 by Tarleton State.
“We have a tough team. We never back down when our backs are against the walls,” Porter explained.
Southern Utah University makes the trip up to Ogden to take on Weber State in a Big Sky Conference game on Jan. 21.
It is the first Big Sky Conference game that WSU will play in since the Dec. 20, 2020, 74-72 loss at Portland State. There have been four games on the Wildcats’ schedule in the Big Sky that were canceled due to safety protocols and procedures dealing with COVID-19.
“We’re excited. We got to get back to playing Big Sky games. We got a really good opponent coming in on Thursday,” Rahe said.