OGDEN -- It could take some time before the new-look Wildcats are completely comfortable with their smaller lineup, but they handled their first test without too much stress.
Damian Lillard tossed in 31 points and just missed his second straight double-double as Weber State defeated Southern Utah 84-66 on Saturday at the Dee Events Center.
Lillard casually stole an inbounds pass and knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer before leaving the game with a couple of minutes left to finish with 31.
He also had nine assists, nearly following his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in an ugly 28-point loss at BYU on Wednesday with another.
"After the other night, we felt like we needed to challenge them a little bit," Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. "I didn't think that was a good look at our basketball team. A couple of things that we really thought we needed to do better: Our shot selection needed to get a lot better, we needed to share the ball a little bit more, we needed to defend and rebound better in the second half. I thought our guys did that tonight. They take well to coaching, they really understood what we needed to get done. I thought they focused on it and I thought they played pretty well."
Lillard, who entered the game as the nation's leading scorer, threw down a highlight-reel dunk late in the first half and had 18 by the break en route to scoring 30-plus points for the third time in his last four games.
He passed WSU legend Harold Arceneaux for ninth place on the school's all-time scoring list and now averages 26.9 points per game.
"Every time I bring the ball up in transition or in the halfcourt, my main focus is to get my defender off-balance, whether it's to get us in to a set more smoothly or whether I can get him off-balance and get to the rim," Lillard said of the dunk. "I kind of gave him a move that he basically just cleared my way. I got in there and I was able to jump; once I got up, I knew I was getting to the rim."
After losing 6-foot-6 senior small forward Kyle Bullinger and 6-foot-6 Frank Otis in back-to-back games, 6-foot-2 sophomore Jordan Richardson got his first start at shooting guard for Weber State (6-2).
"I just tried to play my role," said Richardson, who had 10 points and four assists. "Play defense, play hard, be aggressive and knock down shots when my time comes."
WSU coaches had already asked Richardson, a natural point guard, to learn to play at the 2-guard spot to get more minutes even before using three guards on the court at the same time became necessary.
Scott Bamforth, Weber State's second-leading scorer, didn't attempt a shot while moving to the 3-spot for the first time.
Sophomore center Kyle Tresnak scored in double figures for the sixth straight game with 15 points, Byron Fulton came off the bench to score 10 points and senior forward Darin Mahoney had nine points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats, who won their fifth consecutive game over Southern Utah (4-5) in the final meeting between the two schools as non-conference opponents.
SUU, which is coached by Weber State alum Roger Reid, will leave the Summit League to join the Big Sky Conference next season. Ray Jones, Jr. led the T-Birds with 14 points, Davis High product Jackson Stevenett had 12 and Damon Heuir had 11.
Weber State led 44-32 at half and opened the second half on a 14-5 run to keep the Thunderbirds at bay.
Weber State's next contest is Dec. 16 on the road at Cal of the Pac-12.