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After a disappointing loss to the University of Northern Colorado Bears on Thursday night, the Weber State University men’s basketball team looked to bounce back against the University of North Dakota in a rare afternoon game in Grand Forks, N.D.
Coach Randy Rahe emphasized toughness following the loss, and he got the results he wanted: The Wildcats got the best of UND with a final score of 72-60.
The Wildcats got off to hot start, scoring the first nine points of the game. However, with the combination of team veteran-ship and WSU senior center Kyle Tresnak heading to the bench with a quick second foul, UND went on a 16-3 run to take a four-point lead.
With Tresnak getting into foul trouble early, senior Byron Fulton, who only averaged six minutes of playing time going into the game, had his name called to do his part in the game.
“Byron is always ready,” Rahe said. “He hasn’t been getting as much playing time, but he works just as hard in practice as anyone.”
And the hard work paid off.
Fulton ended the game with a season-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, including two for two from 3-point range. He also added three rebounds and a steal, all in just 14 minutes of play.
“(My routine) is the same any game,” Fulton said. “I wake up and do the same thing whether I play or not.”
The Wildcats finished the half strong on a 28-8 run, giving them a 36-24 lead at the break.
But foul trouble continued to be an issue for the Wildcats, as all of the bigs had at least three fouls each to end the game. Tresnak and Joel Bolomboy both finished with four.
Despite the foul trouble, WSU got good production from guards Jordan Richardson, Davion Berry and Jeremy Senglin.
Richardson led his team with 16 points and four assists, shooting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. Two of those 3-pointers came in absolute desperation as the shot clock was winding down.
“You’ve got to have things like that happen,” said Rahe on the two miraculous 3-pointers. “Those two big shots stopped their run and got the momentum going our way.”
Richardson and the other guards also did a great job defending UND guard and Big Sky Player of the Year candidate Troy Huff. Huff was held to only three made field goals on 11 attempts, but made 10 free throws to get a game-high 17 points.
In the second half, WSU led by as many as 15, but UND and its home record of 5-1 weren’t going to go down without a fight. Over a span of nearly five minutes, UND went on an 11-3 run to cut the lead to just seven with a score of 56-49 with 5:10 remaining in the game.
However, Berry hit a big shot as he faded away from the left side to put the Wildcats up 60-49 with four minutes to go, giving the Wildcats the momentum. Berry was practically double-teamed the entire game, but was still able to finish with 12 points, shooting an impressive 5 of 8 from the floor.
From there, the Wildcats broke multiple full-court presses, which led to some easy buckets, and forced a couple of turnovers down the stretch to seal the deal with the final score of 72-60.
The Wildcats improved to a conference record of 3-1, and an overall record of 6-6. After the rough road trip with an odd schedule, WSU will get a bit of a break before facing Southern Utah University at the Dee Events Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.