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The Weber State University men’s basketball team hosted the Adams State University Grizzlies for its only exhibition game before it heads into the regular season next Friday. Despite ASU being a Division II team from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, WSU won the game by eight points with a final score of 85-77.
True freshman Jeremy Senglin led WSU with 17 points on the night, hitting four of six shots from the field and nine of 13 from the line. Senior guard Davion Berry scored 15 points, but those came on 3-of-12 shooting from the field. Senior center Kyle Tresnak added 14 points on a much more efficient 6-of-12 shooting.
What was thought to be a blowout game started out unlike many expected. Both teams came out swinging at the beginning of the game, both shooting 50 percent with the score tied going into the first timeout.
WSU hit its first two 3-point attempts but went cold afterward, missing five from beyond the arc before connecting again, and the 3-point attempts dwindled for the rest of the game.
The Wildcats tried to default to the strategy WSU head coach Randy Rahe has emphasized: The offensive focus of this team would be to get the ball down low to the bigs.
The Wildcats got the momentum running and led by as many as 13 with just less than seven minutes left in the half, but then the Grizzlies came storming back with 12 unanswered points to make it a one-point game, and later tied the game at 34 apiece with a little more than two minutes to go in the half.
WSU closed out the half, outscoring the Grizzlies 5-2 to go into the locker room, leading by just three with a score of 39-36.
Whatever Rahe said to his team during halftime did enough to get the Wildcats to put some space between them and the Grizzlies, at least for a moment.
The Wildcats bounced back from the less-than-desirable performance in the first with a 10-2 run to start out the half. After some back-and-forth play, they went on another 10-2 run, making the score 57-43, the largest lead of the night at 14.
But the Grizzlies weren’t about to roll over. After getting some back-to-back buckets here and there, ASU capitalized on a number of Wildcat turnovers, resulting in an 11-2 run, making it a four-point game at 63-59 with 9:47 left in the game.
“When they jumped us and got into us, I didn’t think we responded very well,” Rahe said. “Exhibition or no exhibition, I thought they played right with us. They played with a lot of toughness; they played with a lot of intensity. We’re not very tough right now. We’re not a very tough team. We’ve got to learn to compete harder, and then, obviously, we got a lot of things to work on defensively.”
Rahe said all of the problems his team had stemmed from one thing it lacked that night: toughness.
“We’ve got to learn how to compete a little bit harder,” Rahe said. “If you don’t fix those things, the other things on the court don’t matter.”
In spite of lacking the desired toughness in play, the coaching staff and team recognized the opportunity for growth and learning.
“(This game) shows that we need to work on some stuff. That was pretty apparent,” Tresnak said. “We’re going to break down the film, get in the gym and definitely work on the things we do. We have the talent level, and we can play with the toughness and we can be successful.”
The Wildcats will open regular season play Friday in Provo as they try to get their first-ever win in the Marriott Center against the Brigham Young University Cougars.