Weber State uses hot free-throw shooting to hold off Fullerton in CIT 1st round

Thursday , March 16, 2017 - 10:52 PM1 comment

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

After seeing its 13-point lead erased in the second half, Weber State men’s basketball held strong to claim an 80-76 win over Cal State Fullerton in the first round of CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Senior guard Jeremy Senglin and sophomore center Zach Braxton scored 21 points each, but it was senior forward Kyndahl Hill who was named the game’s MVP. Hill scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and shot 10 of 10 from the free-throw line.

As a team, the Wildcats shot 25 of 27 from the free-throw line, with 17 of their final 23 points coming at the stripe.

“We had really wide-open looks from 3 and we just couldn’t get them to go down,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “They forced us to drive the ball and our guys did a good job of getting to the paint and converting.”

An 18-7 run sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Jerrick Harding gave the Wildcats a 53-40 lead in the first few minutes of the second half.

But the shots stopped dropping and Fullerton used second-chance points to get right back into the mix.

“We get those rebounds, we’re not worried about coming down the stretch,” Rahe said. “But they are a good rebounding team, so you’ve got to give them credit. They got aggressive. In the last three or four minutes, I thought we got that right back under control.”

While Weber State went seven minutes without a field goal after building its largest lead of the game, the Titans put together an 18-2 run to eliminate the double-digit deficit and take a 58-55 lead.

The two teams traded shots the rest of the way, but a late steal from Senglin led to two free-throws, creating just enough shift in momentum for the Wildcats to close out the game.

Braxton and Hill both spent time on the floor in pain at different times in the second half and Senglin was playing with an illness. Rahe wasn’t sure if Senglin was going to play based on how he looked before the game.

“We got beat up pretty good,” Rahe said. “Kyndahl got beat up, Jerrick got beat up, Zach’s pulled his groin, and Jeremy’s been sick as dog for two days. He was a little low energy tonight, but he still played really well. We need some time to try to get these bodies back.”

It is not yet known when, where or who the Wildcats will play in the second round.

Fellow Big Sky Conference member Idaho defeated Stephen F. Austin 73-50 in their first-round game Wednesday.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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