Big Sky Conference basketball has returned to the Dee Events Center for the 2021-22 season as the Weber State men’s team beat Western Colorado University 100-60 on Nov. 9.
Newly-transferred senior guards JJ Overton, from Utah Valley University, and Koby McEwen, from Marquette, were both inserted into WSU Head Coach Randy Rahe’s starting lineup on opening night and it looked as if they have been apart of the program all along.
“These guys have been around playing a lot of college basketball and they add more experience to this team,” Rahe said. “They’ve been there, done that and I look forward to seeing them grow with the rest of the program.”
WSU opened the game up 24-9 including a layup by Overton as he drove to the basket, leaned back and converted on a layup as he fell down and got the foul at 16:44 the first half.
A flip switched for the Mountaineers after their first timeout at 9:04, turning their deficit around as WCU guard Matthew Ragsdale nailed two three-pointers and made both of his free throws to tie the game at 33.
“We know we are a better team than that,” McEwen said. “We didn’t come out with the energy we needed to and we knew that. Once they hit those threes, we got together and said we have to pick it up by playing better defense like we normally do.”
WCU couldn’t make a shot after they tied the game at 35 and the ‘Cats punished the Mountaineers as they scored 12 consecutive points to create a 47-35 advantage before halftime.
The second half got heated from the start and it quickly lit a spark for the Wildcats.
At 17:40, Wildcats freshman forward Dillon Jones drove into the paint for a layup and received an offensive foul after bumping into Ragsdale.
Coach Rahe received a technical foul for yelling at the referee regarding Jones’ foul.
Ragsdale made one of the two free-throws he received and the score was 51-42 in Weber State’s favor.
“I don’t like getting technicals, but we responded really well.” Rahe said. “We needed to get our intensity up since we started off well, but ended the first half flat. Once the foul happened, we responded and played a lot better.”
Soon after, a 19-3 run for WSU was created as McEwen scored two layups and a side-step three-pointer assisted by Overton to rack up eight points during this span at 13:53.
Coming off the bench, Weber State freshman forward Dyson Koehler hit a step-back shot for two points at 4:04 after receiving a behind-the-back pass from junior guard/forward Zahir Porter to put the Wildcats in control 95-54 and eventually closing out the game 100-60.
Overton led WSU in points with 18 points and three assists, senior forward Michal Kozak collected two assists, sophomore Seikou Sisoho Jawara added 17 points and McEwen had 16.
“I am starting to really love playing basketball again, I get to be in a program that embraces who I am,” McEwen said when he talked about transferring from Marquette to WSU. “When you are placed in a different situation, it makes you appreciate the little things a lot more.
Ragsdale primarily led the Mountaineers on offense as he recorded 19 points after a great start scoring 10 first-half points, Western Colorado guard Avery Rembao finished with 12.
The Wildcats will travel to the east coast for their next game as they square-off against Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Nov. 15.