A stripe in the streak: WSU loses to ISU

After a 2–0 in-conference start, Weber State University’s men’s basketball team lost 67–57 to Idaho State University on Jan. 7 at the Dee Events Center.

“We didn’t have that same edge to us that we normally have,” Weber State head coach Eric Duft said. “Obviously that’s something we’ve got to work on.”

Winning the tip, the Bengals started the night strong. Center Brayden Parker made back-to-back points and recorded a steal early in the game to give Idaho State a 4–0 lead. Wildcat guard KJ Cunningham hit a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats their first points of the night.

With just under 17 minutes left in the first half, Idaho State center Kolby Lee scored inside. A six-minute field goal drought for both teams followed. Wildcat Dillon Jones and Zahir Porter made all of their free throws, giving Weber State their first lead of the night, 7–6.

Wildcat guard Junior Ballard made the field goal that ended the drought, hitting a fadeaway outside of the paint that drew a foul and led to a 3-point play. Scoring a long 2-pointer from the corner, Weber State guard Steven Verplancken added to the lead to make the score 12–6.

Throwing down a powerful two-handed jam, Wildcat center Alex Tew made a staple play with seven minutes to go in the first half. Jones then grabbed a rebound and sliced through the defense on a full-court fast break that ended with a layup.

Lee responded with inside points for Idaho State, but Weber State continued to widen the gap as Jones hit a deep 3-pointer. Tew then made two free throws to add to the lead.

With under seven minutes left in the half, Wildcat forward Dyson Koehler was called for a foul on Bengal guard Miguel Tomley from beyond the arc, who scored three foul shots.

Under the basket, off an inbound pass, Idaho State guard Brock Mackenzie snuck through the defense for a layup. In response, Tew threw down another two-handed slam off an assist from Jones. During Weber State’s next possession, Tew got the ball for his third dunk of the night.

At the end of the first, the Wildcats were up 32–25. Jones finished the half with a near double-double of 9 points and eight rebounds.

Despite starting off the half with an inside fadeaway from Verplancken, Idaho State gained control in the second. Tomley scored back-to-back points inside to eat away at the Wildcats’ lead. Mackenzie then made a mid-range jumper to add to the run.

Ballard ended the Wildcats’ drought with a 3-pointer, but it wasn’t enough to kill the Bengals’ momentum. Parker scored 4 points in a row for Idaho State, and inside points from forward Jay Nagle gave the Bengals their first lead since the beginning of the game. Idaho State guard Maleek Arington quickly added on with a corner 3-pointer.

Trying to regain control, the Wildcats went on a 4–0 run to go up 43–42. Killing Weber State’s last lead of the night, Nagle drove inside and scored. After two free throws from Arington, Nagle scored inside again, drawing contact from Porter this time and converting on an and-1 opportunity.

“When adversity hits, that’s when you have to be the most collective, the most together, the most [on the] same page,” Ballard said. “They hit a few more shots than us.”

The Wildcats failed to keep up with the Bengals throughout the rest of the second half. With just under four minutes left, Idaho State was up 58–45.

Tomley, Parker and Nagle all scored in the double digits for the Bengals. A double-double performance, Jones had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats. Ballard ended with 13 points and Verplancken with 12 points.

“We’ve got to do a better job offensively of moving the ball,” Duft said. “We don’t have as much playmaking as other teams, and we’ve got to move it and create some advantages for ourselves.”

Weber State will travel to play against the University of Montana on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.