Thursday , February 08, 2018 - 10:57 PM
“It was an ugly game, and sometimes you’ve got to win ugly,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “A lot of credit to our kids for hanging in there and finding a way.”
After nine ties and eight lead changes, sophomore guard Jerrick Harding was the alpha and omega of an 8-0 run that gave the Wildcats (16-7, 9-2 Big Sky) some breathing room in the second half.
It started with a deep shot for 3 from the Kansas native. Then, off a long defensive rebound, freshman guard Ricky Nelson found Harding streaking up the floor, who then finished with a one-handed dunk to give the Wildcats a 61-53 lead with eight minutes to play.
“That was big. We had to have something happen,” Rahe said. “Pretty much the whole game it was back and forth. Nobody could get away from the other one. Second half was the same thing. We were hoping to make a little push. In a game like that, it doesn’t take much. You just need two or three plays.”
The Fighting Hawks (8-16, 3-9) kept the contest close and tied the game at 69 with 2:44 to play, but another 8-2 Wildcat run capped by a gutsy 3-pointer from senior guard Dusty Baker forced UND to press and foul the rest of the way.
Weber State made seven of their 10 free throws in the last minute of play to keep out of North Dakota’s reach and extend their winning streak to six games.
“I didn’t feel like we had the energy that we needed for quite a bit of the first half and to start the second half,” Rahe said. “I thought that we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. I think North Dakota has something to do with that. They’re a tough matchup. The way they play us bothers us.”
Harding finished with 21 points, four boards, three assists and three steals.
Junior forward Brekkott Chapman made plays all over the court and was an impact player in the win. He totaled 19 points, 12 rebounds, a team-high five assists, a game-high three blocks and a steal.
“He played with a great deal on confidence,” Rahe said. “He affected the game in just about every area you can think of. I thought he played maybe his best, overall, well-rounded game since he’s been with us.”
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, with junior center Zach Braxton leading the scoring effort and matching his career high for the second time this year with 22 points and seven rebounds.
“I just tried to be as aggressive as possible,” Braxton said. “My teammates always help me out ... When we played up there I wasn’t aggressive enough. If I’m sealing close to the basket and they want to front or double, we can get stuff out of that.”
Northern Colorado snuck by Idaho State 85-82 on Thursday and will make the trip to Ogden for tipoff at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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