WSU bear-ly lost to the Grizzlies

Weber State center Handje Tamba (32) stealing the ball from a Montana State player.

After a 73–63 win against Montana State University on Feb. 9, Weber State University’s men’s basketball team lost to the University of Montana 74–69 on Feb. 11 at the Dee Events Center.

Heading into the game, Weber State had a three-game winning streak over the Grizzlies, with the last game being decided by a buzzer-beater from Wildcat guard Steven Verplancken Jr. Before Saturday, both teams had 13–12 Big Sky conference records. With similar styles of play, both teams were holding opponents to 68 points per game.

Montana held the biggest lead of the night as they went up 16-points over the Wildcats halfway through the second half. Although Weber State scored 16 more points in the paint, the Grizzlies dominated from the 3-point line, hitting 14 shots from beyond the arc compared to Weber State’s eight shots. Montana shot 56% from the 3-point line.

“After switching the defensive formation multiple times throughout the game, we realized that we need to stick to small ball defense,” Wildcat head coach Eric Duft said. “Typically, when we go small, we have a harder time guarding them.”

The Grizzlies starting guard Aanen Moody shot 5 for 10 from the three-point line, finishing the game with a total of 23 points and two assists.

The leading scorer for the Wildcats was Dillon Jones, who had a total of 21 points, while only shooting the ball a total of 20 times throughout the game.

With Wildcat guard KJ Cunningham playing on a restricted amount of minutes due to an ankle injury, guard Zahir Porter was brought off the bench to fill in the role. Cunningham had a total of 15 points, one assist and one steal in the game.

This matchup only had one lead change throughout the entire game, as Montana held the Wildcats off for a majority of the 40 minutes.

“I thought our plan was sound, but they executed better than we did,” Duft said.

After a big win over Montana State and a hard-to-swallow loss against Montana, Weber State sits at No. 3 in the Big Sky rankings. With a 13–13 record, the Wildcats have a total of five more games until the conference tournament in March.

Weber State will hit the road to take on Sacramento State University on Feb. 16 and Portland State on Feb. 18. The Wildcats’ next home game will be against Eastern Washington on Feb. 23.