GREELEY, Colo. -- Get ready for the main event.
Damian Lillard scored 30 points as Weber State took care of business with an 88-71 win over Northern Colorado on Thursday at Butler-Hancock Pavilion. Now there's nothing left for the Wildcats to do but prepare for their upcoming showdown with Montana next Tuesday in Missoula for the regular-season championship.
The Grizzlies easily defeated Northern Arizona 78-60 Thursday for their 10th straight win and have only their in-state contest with Montana State left Saturday before their grudge match with Weber State (23-4, 14-1 Big Sky) to decide who will host the league tournament.
"This is what we wanted," Lillard said. "If there's going to be two teams fighting for first place, there's no better way than to finish the season than with both teams with one loss. It means a lot to us. It's a great feeling to have one game where everything is on the line, to play for all the marbles. That's what you play for, for big moments like this."
Weber State won its seventh straight and 17th in its last 18 games. 'Cats coach Randy Rahe called it a team effort as freshman guard Gelaun Wheelwright had a career-high 15 points off the bench, sophomore center Kyle Tresnak had 14 and senior forward Kyle Bullinger added 10.
WSU's sharpshooters shot down Northern Colorado (9-18, 5-10), most accurate 3-point shooting team in the country.
Bears coach B.J. Hill credited Weber State's depth and talent.
"You're talking about a team that's got three guys that have been first-team all-conference at one point in their careers and the returning freshman of the year," he said. "They just keep bringing the weapons at you. If you have a weak link, they're going to find it."
Thursday, the Wildcats turned the Bears' biggest strength into a weakness.
The Bears, who averaged 45.4 percent from beyond the arc entering the game, hit only 5-of-15 (33.0 percent), while Weber State, which was ranked ninth in 3-point percentage, hit 11-of-25 from deep (44.0 percent).
It was a marked turnaround from Northern Colorado's 10-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc in WSU's Feb. 4 win in Ogden.
"Last time they played at our place, that's how they stayed in the game, making 3-pointers," Lillard said. "Coach Rahe really harped on us this week in practice, telling us they shot 50 percent from 3 against us," he said. "They got good looks and they're good shooters, so if they get good looks they're going to knock them down. Today we just got to them. We tried to put a hand up on every shooter and make them put it on the floor."
Wheelwright hit three 3s in the first half as Weber State continued its trend of getting solid contributions off the bench.
"I'm just doing what coach Rahe wants me to do ... in the open court, just sprint the floor hard and take the right shots," he said. "That's what I did and they fell tonight."
The Wildcats led the whole way, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor and dished 17 assists with only six turnovers.
In front of a season-high 16 NBA scouts Thursday, Lillard reached 30 points for the eighth time this season and dished eight assists while reaching several milestones.
The junior point guard from Oakland, Calif., hit 13-of-14 from the free throw line, tying his career-high in FT makes as well as matching Jermaine Boyette for the most makes in a career at WSU (486).
Lillard's 5-for-10 performance from beyond the arc also gave him the most 3s in a single season in school history (86), breaking his own record.
Paul Garnica had a team-high 16 points to lead four Bears in double figures and Northern Colorado's lone senior, forward Mike Proctor, had a double-double on Senior Night with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
After NC cut the lead to three at 57-54 in the second half, Lillard's 3 started a 13-2 run, capped by another pair of treys from Bamforth and Bullinger, as Weber State put Northern Colorado away.
Now, finally, Rahe can turn his thoughts to the regular-season grand finale at Montana.
"Tomorrow, we get going on (the game plan for the Griz)," he said. "We're excited about that challenge. We're really excited about that opportunity. Montana is playing at probably a higher level than anybody in our conference. They're playing terrific and we're excited about that challenge of going up there. We know we're probably going to need to play one of the best games of our season."
* MONTANA 78, NORTHERN ARIZONA 60: At Missoula, Mont., Derek Selvig had 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots to help Montana to a victory over Northern Arizona.
Kareem Jamar scored 14 points and Mathias Ward scored 13 for the Grizzlies, who won their 10th game in a row.
Montana (21-6, 13-1) led by double figures most of the way and remained a half-game behind Weber State for the Big Sky Conference lead. The Grizzlies face the Wildcats Tuesday night in Missoula in the regular-season finale.