WSU charges to second round of CIT

(Source Hunter D'Antuono, Montana Kaimin) Freshman Joel Bolomboy dunks the ball in the Big Sky Championship game.
(Source Hunter D’Antuono, Montana Kaimin)
Freshman Joel Bolomboy dunks the ball in the Big Sky Championship game.

The Weber State University Wildcats earned a solid victory of 85-43 on Wednesday night to begin the Tournament. The Wildcats’ first-round victory came against the Mustangs from California Polytechnic State University out of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The Wildcats returned to the Dee Events Center to begin the tournament following their recent loss in the Big Sky Championship game versus conference rival the University of Montana. The Wildcats lost in a close game with a score of 67-64 in Missoula, Mont.

As the tournament’s first-round game began on Wednesday night, the Wildcats got off to a hot start. WSU held the tempo for the first five minutes of the match as it laid down a 14-2 run against the Mustangs. Cal Poly slowly crept back up the scoreboard, however, and was able to cut the WSU lead to eight with a score of 18-10.

The rest of the first half belonged to WSU. After a few minutes of solid play from the Mustangs, the Wildcats stopped any momentum of their opponents and charged forth to put the score at 32-12 — giving them a 20-point lead. WSU held control of the period, and after a 3-point buzzer-beater from senior guard Scott Bamforth, the score at the end of the half read 45-18 — a 27-point lead for WSU.

Bamforth and junior center Kyle Tresnak headed WSU in the first half. Tresnak totaled 16 points and four rebounds, and Bamforth added 14 points, going 4-for-5 from the 3-point line.

The second half of the game was a similar sight. WSU maintained clear control of the tempo, and the Mustangs were never able to pull back up to a manageable deficit. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Wildcats held a 31-point lead with a score of 64-33.

The WSU lead grew even larger with two minutes left in the quarter. With a score of 81-41, the Wildcats held a 40-point lead. WSU held out the final two minutes and won the game with a score of 85-43.

Bamforth led the Wildcats with 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and an impressive 7-for-9 shooting mark from behind the 3-point line. Bamforth moved into second place all-time for WSU 3-point shooting, five 3-pointers away from passing Damian Lillard as the all-time leader. Tresnak contributed with 20 points and five rebounds of his own. Junior forward Davion Berry finished with 12 points, and freshman forward/center Joel Bolomboy added 10 points and eight rebounds.

“I got great teammates — obviously they’re like my brothers,” Bamforth said. “We didn’t want the season to end, and it didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to. Obviously, we want to be playing in the (NCAA) Tournament, but we’re in this tournament. So you go with the hand you’re dealt. I felt like everybody was in tune (tonight). We don’t want the season to end, especially for me and Mook (Frank Otis), but just in general, we like to play basketball.”

Head coach Randy Rahe complimented his team after the game for the manner in which it played.

“To come back and come out the way they did tonight,” Rahe said, “it shows you the character of these kids, it shows you the toughness of these kids, it shows you the togetherness of these kids, and that’s kind of what we try to hang our hat on as a program. I thought tonight’s game kind of showed what these kids are all about and what we try to make our program about, and I was really proud of them and the way they came out.”

The Wildcats will now move forward to the second round of the Tournament to face the U.S. Air Force Academy on Saturday. WSU will host the game, which will start at 7 p.m.