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Coming off of a loss on a last-second shot in overtime, the Weber State University men’s basketball team bounced back Thursday with a win over the University of North Dakota. The Wildcats defeated UND 84-72.
“I was proud of our guys bouncing back after that tough one we had out at Sac State,” said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. “I wasn’t totally sure how our guys would respond. I knew they would try to respond the right way. I think they showed what they are made of tonight.”
The Wildcats looked to work the ball into the post early in the first half and throughout the game. They scored their first six points in the paint, jumping out to a quick 6-3 lead. Both senior Kyle Tresnak and sophomore Joel Bolomboy had their way in the paint throughout the game.
“I want to thank my teammates; I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Bolomboy said. “They were just giving me the ball and I just took the opportunities.”
But UND got a few quick buckets off of turnovers, going on a 5-0 run to take the lead, 8-6. UND then began a run, scoring seven unanswered to go up 17-10 with 12 minutes left in the half.
After a quick timeout from Rahe, the Wildcats went on a run of their own, which included back-to-back threes to regain the lead 20-17 midway through the half. The run was sparked by the Wildcat bench, including freshmen Kyndahl Hill and Richaud Gittens.
“I thought Richaud and Kyndahl gave us a good spark off the bench, especially when we were down 17-10,” Rahe said. “We had a group out there that made a push and got us back into it and lifted our energy and our emotion a little bit and got us back going.”
The Wildcats continued the run, outscoring UND 19-2 over a six-minute span and giving WSU a 10-point lead. Six UND turnovers fueled the Wildcats’ run, which led to 10 points.
UND went on a run of its own to cut the lead down to just four with four minutes left in the half. But the Wildcats again answered with back-to-back threes. The second one turned into a four-point possession as Davion Berry was knocked down on his attempt, drawing a foul.
WSU pushed its lead to as many as 13 late in the half. But UND made a push late to go into halftime down 38-32.
UND senior Jaron Nash led all scorers with 13 points in the first half. Senior Jamal Webb added seven points and two assists.
Berry led the Wildcats with nine points, including four from the free-throw line. Bolomboy added eight points and five rebounds for WSU.
The Wildcats again pushed the lead to double digits to start the second half. The Wildcats hit consecutive dunks in transition to open the half.
Tresnak was all over the rim in the second half, scoring eight points, six points on dunks, in the first five minutes of the half.
“You really have to focus on Dev, Jeremy (Senglin), especially when they are driving it in,” Tresnak said. “Jordan (Richardson) too. When I would set a screen for them, my man would stay with them, and that opened everything up for me and Joel.”
The Wildcats got into early foul trouble, which kept UND in the game. The Wildcats’ lead was again cut to six early in the half.
The Wildcats blew the game wide open at the nine-minute mark, going up by 15 points. The Wildcats were flying all around the court, hitting layups left and right off of turnovers.
But UND was relentless, bringing the lead back to just eight with three minutes left. The Wildcats were able to make their free throws at the end and get their 10th-straight home win.
Nash finished with a game-high 27 points. Senior Troy Huff added 19 points and 10 rebounds for UND.
Berry led the Wildcats with 21 points, including eight from the free-throw line in the final two minutes. Bolomboy had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Tresnak added 16 points for WSU.
The Wildcats will now head on the road for four straight games. They will begin their trip in Cedar City, facing Southern Utah University. The Wildcats defeated the Thunderbirds 65-59 at the Dee Events Center earlier this season.
The Wildcats also had a game Saturday against the University of Northern Colorado. That game will be covered in the Wednesday issue of The Signpost and at www.wsusignpost.com.