WSU defeats Oral Roberts University in quarterfinals

The Weber State University men’s basketball team will head to the semifinal round of the Tournament after defeating Oral Roberts University 83-74 in a close quarterfinal battle on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats entered the game with exceptional play behind them during the tournament. After a 40-point victory over California Polytechnic State University and a 78-57 victory against the U.S. Air Force Academy on Saturday night, the Wildcats returned to the Dee Events Center for their third game. The Wildcats played at ORU previously on Feb. 23 of this year and came away with a close 70-66 win.

The Wildcats got off to a good start on Wednesday night in front of a crowd of more than 6,600. After the first five minutes of play, WSU held the lead with a score of 11-6 over the Golden Eagles. While neither team seemed to show the majority of momentum, the Wildcats managed to hold a 16-11 lead at the 10-minute marker.

With five minutes left in the half, the score was close at 25-22, with WSU maintaining the slight edge. The tight race continued to the end of the half, and the Wildcats were able to head to the locker room with narrow 34-31 lead.

Junior forward Davion Berry led WSU for the first half of the game with 11 points and three assists. Senior guard Scott Bamforth had eight points for WSU, and junior center Kyle Tresnak added seven points with eight rebounds. WSU shot 42 percent from the field, including 5-for-10 shooting from behind the arc.

The second half of the game played on in a similar manner as the first. WSU continued to hold the lead, but ORU stayed very close behind. Five minutes into the half, the Wildcats were on top with a score of 46-40. The defense from both teams was very physical and, after some debated calls by the officials, the home-crowd involvement was very high.

The score read 54-48 for WSU with 10 minutes left, but ORU cut the WSU lead to one with eight minutes to go. However, after two crucial back-to-back 3-pointers from Bamforth and junior guard Jordan Richardson, as well as two layups from Berry, the WSU lead jumped up to 71-61 with four minutes left.

The Wildcats were able to carry out their momentum to the end of the half and closed the game with a nine-point victory. With the 83-74 win, WSU defeated the Golden Eagles for the second time this year.

Berry led WSU with 27 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals. Tresnak had 19 points and eight rebounds, Bamforth added 18 points and five rebounds, and senior forward Frank Otis had four points with nine rebounds. The Wildcats shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“We came out there and let our defense turn it to our offense,” Berry said. “We knew (the Golden Eagles) were going to battle. We hit our wall, but we pushed through the wall too . . . ultimately, everybody made plays down the stretch.”

WSU head coach Randy Rahe acknowledged the Golden Eagles’ quality team and credited his team for pulling out with a win.

“To be able to win a game against (Oral Roberts) means a lot to me because of how they run their program,” Rahe said. “They do it the right way . . . I’m really happy with the win, and our guys did a nice job . . . We had some tough matchups, but our guys just kind of hung in there.”

WSU will follow up its win with a trip to the University of Northern Iowa to play in the Tournament semifinals on Saturday. The winner of the match will host the championship game on April 2.