Isiah Brown and the Weber State Wildcats won big on Feb. 18, cruising easily to a 92–59 win over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in the first of a two-game series at Dee Events Center.
The Wildcats were without junior guard/forward Zahir Porter and senior center Dontay Bassett. Porter was on the bench and not in uniform because of an undisclosed team violation, and Bassett was out with a non-COVID illness. Senior Michal Kozak started instead of Bassett, and freshman Dillon Jones made his first career start as a Wildcat because of Porter being sidelined.
As for Northern Arizona, this was their first game since Jan. 29 when they won 68–64 against Northern Colorado.
Brown was red-hot all night as he broke his own career-high of most points in a game with 31, including 20 points in the first half, going 6–12 from behind the arc and assisting five times. His previous record for most points in a game was 29.
Senior Cody Carlson added 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kozak would start and sophomore guard Seikou Sisoho Jawara both chipped in with 12 points for WSU.
The beginning of the game saw Brown step back and nail a quick mid-range jumper followed by a wide-open three-pointer assisted by a brilliant pass from Kozak to help the Wildcats take an early 5–0 lead.
After a series of three free throws from Lumberjacks’ guard Luke Avdalovic, Kozak responded by hitting a three after a no-look pass from Dillon Jones to extend Weber State’s lead to 10–5 with 16:29 remaining in the first half.
Both teams were trading buckets as Weber State would pull ahead at moments, and Northern Arizona would close the gap throughout the first 20 minutes.
It wasn’t until Jones set up Kozak for a step-back triple at 5:43 when the Wildcats started to increase the scoring differential.
Weber State would go on a 22–8 scoring run after the 3-pointer from Kozak to give the Wildcats a 44–28 lead at halftime. Brown went 7–9 shooting and 3–5 from deep to give him 20 points in the first half.
“I try to approach every game the same. Tonight, I took good shots, felt good and I got hot,” Brown said.
NAU missed back-to-back 3-point opportunities early in the second half until the Wildcats responded with an 8–0 scoring run beginning with Carlson going into the paint and finishing at the rim with a layup after receiving a pass from Brown.
Carlson would then follow up the layup to hit his one and only three-pointer in the game in the second half.
At 18:10, Brown finished three more 3-pointers in a span of nearly three minutes to tie his career high with 29 points, guiding the Wildcats into cruise control with the score being 58–34. He would then score one more spot-up to break his career high with him scoring 31 points on the night before sitting on the bench to rest for the remainder of the game.
“[Brown] made shots early, and his performance was terrific. He made wide-open, good shots, he didn’t have to force many. He was really important to getting us off to a good start,” Randy Rahe, Wildcats head coach, said about the Browns game.
The score would widen to 89–59 before freshman guard Josh Sanders would walk off the bench and enter the game. About two minutes later, he would be the one that broke a Wildcats basketball record.
At 1:27 left in the game, Wildcats junior forward David Nzekwesi grabbed a rebound after Lumberjacks guard Jay Green missed a jumper and Sanders would gather the ball, walk past half-court and release the ball quickly from the top of the arc to score a three to finish the game with the final score being 92–59.
This shot was significant because with Sanders scoring from deep, it marked 18 three-point shots made by Weber State, which broke the record of most threes made against a Division I opponent in the program’s history.
“I don’t really care about the record, but I was just happy to give Josh some playing time because I love that kid. He comes to work every day, he is a good player, pushes the guys to get better, and for him to step in to get that shot to break the record, I thought it was pretty cool,” Rahe said.
After splitting a two-game series at Montana with an 80–67 loss on Feb. 11 and a 91–82 win on Feb. 13, WSU traveled back to Ogden with a point to prove.
“I thought we were a little bit complacent and didn’t have the mentality that we should have had. We got caught slipping, and the loss snapped us back into it and we responded Saturday and tonight,” Brown explained after two bounce-back wins following the tough loss to Montana the week before.