Dominating the division

Alec Cipollini

Weber State University kept their winning streak alive after beating Eastern Washington University, reigning Big Sky tournament champions, 90–84 at the Dee Events Center on Jan. 31.

Dillon Jones prepares to pass the ball to a fellow teammember as an Eastern Washington player blocks him from attempting a layup.
Dillon Jones prepares to pass the ball to a team member as an Eastern Washington player blocks him from attempting a layup. Photo credit: Summer Muster

The Eagles had won the past three games against Weber State, dating back to March 7, 2020, but the Wildcats have consistently dominated against EWU since they first began playing in the conference in 1978.

Center Dontay Bassett took the starting role and ran with it this season, currently averaging 13.6 points over the last five games.

“We needed more production from our centers, and he has been big,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “Dontay had to get his health under control. He didn’t put his head down, went to work and really wanted to help this team.”

Wildcat forward JJ Overton scored 6 of the team’s first 8 points. With 14:03 left in the first half, Overton dished a bounce pass to Bassett, who posterized Eastern Washington forward Linton Acliese III with a dunk to give the ‘Cats a 10–9 lead.

The Eagles went on short run that the Wildcats were able to recover before halftime, with Bassett brought in another crowd-pleasing dunk off a pass from Jones before the buzzer rang for halftime, ending the half with 46–35.

“They had size, but they aren’t gonna beat us scoring 2’s all game,” WSU guard Koby McEwen said. “They can throw it in the paint all they want, but we stayed disciplined.”

Koby McEwen evaluates the court to find a teammate to pass the ball to. (Summer Muster/The Signpost)
Koby McEwen evaluates the court to find a teammate to pass the ball to. Photo credit: Summer Muster

The second half had a more aggressive beginning when Overton tried to score a layup with 17:30 remaining off a pass from Seikou Sisoho Jawara. Overton backed into Eagles guard Rylan Bergersen, who wrapped his forearm around Overton’s shoulder forcing Overton onto his back.

After deliberation between the referees, Bergersen received a double foul and a technical foul, sending Overton to the line where he converted on both free throws.

Eastern Washington rallied back after Acliese scored 7 straight points to shrink the gap to 60–54 with 12:04 remaining in the game.

After a TV timeout at 10:22, Overton ignited a 15–6 run for the Wildcats as he spun and scored off of a reverse behind-the-back layup, making it a 76–63 game.

The aggression continued as Bassett and Acliese battled for a loose ball. While Acliese had the ball in his arms, Bassett tried to rip it out of his shoulders. Players from both teams started arguing before the referees and coaches from Eastern Washington broke up the scrum.

“We got a tough-minded, physical team,” Rahe said. “If something happens out there, they are not gonna back down. They are gonna have each other’s back, since they know other teams are gonna be coming at us hard with the streak that we are on.”

JJ Overton dashes between two Eastern Washington players to get closer to the basket. (Summer Muster/The Signpost)
JJ Overton dashes between two Eastern Washington players to get closer to the basket. Photo credit: Summer Muster

Eagles forward Ethan Price picked up a layup before guard/forward Steele Venters made it a game with a layup of his own, cutting the deficit to 86–81 with 16 seconds left.

McEwen landed two free-throws, which was followed by a 3-pointer from Bergersen, who nailed a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the game, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 88–84.

Little time was remaining on the clock when McEwen was fouled again. Nailing both free throws, he finished off the Eagles for the Wildcats.

“I try to put as much pressure on the defense as I can,” McEwen said. “It’s just my whole mindset, trying to get into the paint. I know I am probably one of the main focal points on our opponents’ scouting reports, and it is not just getting fouled, but getting opportunities for shots.”

Weber State saw four players score double digits in the game. McEwen led the way with 24 points, Sisoho Jawara and Overton both had 20 points and Bassett had 13. Jones finished the night with 4 assists and 16 rebounds.

The Wildcats are now on a seven-game winning streak and will look to continue their dominance as they host the University of Montana on Feb. 3 back at the Dee Events Center at 7 p.m.

Seikou Sisoho Jawara of Weber State pivots the ball away from Eastern Washington players to keep the ball in Weber State possession. (Summer Muster/The Signpost)
Seikou Sisoho Jawara of Weber State pivots the ball away from Eastern Washington players to keep the ball in Weber State possession. Photo credit: Summer Muster