Wildcats stomp on first-place Grizzlies

The Weber State University men’s basketball team secured a solid Big Sky Conference victory against the first-place University of Montana Grizzlies with a score of 87-63 and snapped the Grizzlies’ 14-game winning streak on Thursday night.

Prior to defeating the Grizzlies, the Wildcats came into the match after landing a win of 56-40 at Idaho State University on Monday night.

The high energy filled the arena as the Wildcats began the match against UM. After a 7-6 lead for UM early on, WSU rushed a 9-2 scoring run and gained the lead to put the score at 15-9. After one more basket was made for UM, the Wildcats burst through another scoring run of 12-2 to mark the score at 27-13 with five minutes left in the half.

With only a few minutes left in the first half, the Wildcats held a 10-point lead on the Grizzlies with a score of 29-19. WSU passed another unchallenged scoring run of 14-2 and held the momentum of the game. At the end of the half, the Wildcats held a 20-point lead over the Grizzlies with a score of 44-24.

WSU was led in the first half by senior forward Frank Otis, who scored 12 points. Junior center Kyle Tresnak added 10 points, and sophomore guard Gelaun Wheelwright had eight points. Senior guard Scott Bamforth and junior forward Davion Berry each contributed with five points as well. The Wildcats held the Grizzlies to a field goal percentage of 32 during the half.

The second half of the game opened up with the same energy as the first. While the Wildcats had the upper hand in the first half, the second half proved to get points on the board for both teams. WSU, however, never backed down from its confident lead.

Five minutes into the half, the Wildcats maintained their 20-point cushion with the scoreboard reading 54-34. The game continued with back-and-forth scoring from both teams for most of the half, but the Grizzlies couldn’t top the solid Wildcat play.

With five minutes left to play in the game and a score in favor of the Wildcats at 69-52, WSU powered through another scoring run of 13-2 and solidified its lead with a scoring mark of 82-54 — a margin of 28 points. The final two minutes of the clock drained out, and the Wildcats sealed their victory with a score of 87-63 over UM.

WSU boasted impressive statistics and four players in double figures after the victory. The team was led by Tresnak, who scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds. Berry added 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Otis and Wheelwright each contributed with 14 points, and Bamforth helped with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists. WSU shot 58 percent from the floor during the match.

“I’m really proud of our guys — our guys were really locked in tonight,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “We played with some poise and composure, and we executed the game plan. . . . We had that nice balance of excitement and emotion.”

Wheelwright said the Wildcats’ attitude entering the game helped them secure the victory.

“We came out to win — but we give Montana a lot of credit,” Wheelwright said. “They played hard, and we know they’re a tough team. I’m just glad we were able to come out to win tonight.”

Rahe acknowledged the strength of the Grizzlies and gave his team credit for solid play.

“That’s a really good basketball team we beat, obviously — I mean, a really good team and well coached,” he said. “They’ve done a great job, and I’ve got nothing but respect for them and their program and the things that they’ve done. But our guys earned this one tonight and they deserved it. They did a really good job, and I was proud of them. . . . Montana is the best team in the league, and we can dang sure play with them.”

After one day of rest, WSU will return to action in Ogden against Montana State University on Saturday night.