Weber State University’s men’s basketball team opened up their 2021-22 Big Sky Conference campaign with a 67–44 win against Northern Arizona University at the Dee Events Center on Dec. 2.
When the two squads faced off against each other in the spring, WSU freshman guard Josh Sanders broke the program’s all-time record of most 3-pointers made against a National Collegiate Athletic College Division 1 opponent as he scored the eighteenth 3-pointer of the game in the Wildcats’ 92–59 home win over NAU on Feb. 18.
NAU lost former star guard Cameron Shelton as he transferred to Loyola Marymount University after finishing as the highest scorer in the Big Sky last season. Shelton averaged 19.2 points in 22 games for the Lumberjacks.
Things got chippy right from the get-go when the score was 12–8 in favor of WSU as ‘Cats senior guard Jamison Overton drove to the basket and missed a layup at 12:48 in the first half.
Lumberjacks forward Carson Towt taunted Overton by shrugging his shoulders and laughing at him. Overton responded by headbutting Towt before receiving a technical foul on the play.
“It’s going to happen once in a while,” Dyson Koehler, freshman forward, said. “There will be those games where the refs will call everything. You just have to adjust through tough moments, and that is what we did then.”
After a layup by Towt to minimize the Wildcats’ lead to 12–10, WSU senior guard Koby McEwen made two free throws to create a 10–2 scoring run for Weber State as they led 23–12 with 5:52 remaining in the first half.
WSU freshman guard Alex Tew split between two NAU defenders and dunked the ball before WSU went into halftime with a 28–18 advantage.
In the second frame, the Lumberjacks would try to chop their deficit down, and junior guard Mason Stark did so by scoring 5 points and assisting once in a 0:54 time span to minimize the Wildcats’ lead to just 9 points, 43–34.
“Obviously, we got good players on our team,” Dillon Jones, WSU freshman forward, said. “If we are going to be successful against tough teams, our shots have to fall, and we know that. We just have to play smart.”
After a television timeout, McEwen ignited a 28–6 run as he windmill dunked the ball to set the crowd on their feet and roared with cheers at 8:30 in the second half.
WSU junior guard/forward Zahir Porter would steal two pass attempts by Towt and NAU guard Jalen Cone 32 seconds apart before sending an alley-oop pass to Overton at 7:07.
Overton missed the shot, but McEwen picked up a rebound to score a layup at 6:55, and the Wildcats went up 53–36.
“We kept amping up the defense, got some turnovers and played well defensively,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “I told the team to avoid giving them [NAU] offensive rebounds, stop giving up turnovers, and we did that.”
Porter would pull off a euro-step past Northern Arizona guard Carter Mahaney before finishing with a layup as the game finished 67–44 for the Wildcats.
Jones led the way for Weber State with 18 points and 5 steals. Koehler added 15 points, while McEwen finished with 13.
This was the first home game in nearly a month for WSU since the 100–60 blowout victory against Western Colorado University on Nov. 9, and Jones said it felt weird being at home once again after a five-game road trip.
“I was kinda lost because we haven’t played a home game in a while,” Jones said. “It’s always nice to play in front of the home fans, and I have a lot of pride when I play for Weber State. Being 7–0 now, we want even more fans to show up.”
Weber State beat Portland State University 80–69 on Dec. 4 at the Dee Events Center to remain undefeated and now have an eight-game winning streak.