OGDEN — The only lingering effects from the Wildcats’ heartbreaking loss to Montana in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game appeared to be a desire to bounce back and put the past behind them.
Weber State steamrolled Cal Poly 85-43 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Wednesday at the Dee Events Center, tying a school and Big Sky record for most wins in a season in the process.
Senior shooting guard Scott Bamforth, already ranked 11th on WSU’s all-time scoring list, hit 7 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 23 points to lead four Wildcats in double figures. Junior center Kyle Tresnak added 20 points, junior forward Davion Berry had 12 and freshman forward Joel Bolomboy contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
“We got stung pretty hard the other night, Saturday night,” Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. “There was a lot of emotion and it was hard to take. For those kids to go up there and play three games in three days, play Montana on their court, lose a heartbreaker when you’re one or two possessions away, on their court which is a really tough environment, it’s a tough thing to do. For them to come back and come out the way they did tonight, it shows you the character of these kids.”
Weber State (27-6) shot 60.0 percent for the game and was just as sharp defensively, preventing any Cal Poly player from reaching double figures while limiting the Mustangs to 30.4 percent shooting and outrebounding them 38-29.
Playing in front of 2,309 fans, the Wildcats opened the game with a 14-2 run, started by a pair of 3-pointers from Berry and Bamforth and never looked back en route to a 42-point victory.
“I thought that was a key,” Rahe said, “to start quick and put a little doubt in Cal Poly’s mind. To let them know that we’re here and we’re not down, we are coming to play. I thought the script worked out perfectly.”
Bamforth moved into second place in school history in 3-pointers made, passing John Hamilton, and is just five 3s away from passing Damian Lillard for first place.
The Wildcats said before the game that they wanted to play well for the seniors, Bamforth and forward Frank “Mook” Otis, with another opportunity to be in front of their fans at the Purple Palace. Otis had six points and seven rebounds.
“I’ve got great teammates. I feel like they’re my brothers. We don’t want the season to end,” Bamforth said. “It didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to; obviously we wanted to be playing in the (NCAA) Tournament, but we’re in this tournament. You go with the hand you’re dealt. They don’t want the season to end, especially for me and Mook, but just in general. We like to play basketball.”
With the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament complete, second-round matchups are expected to be announced today.
Tresnak was 10 of 11 from the field.
“We had about a day, maybe two, that we actually kind of got sad, felt sorry for ourselves (after losing to Montana),” he said. “Then we just didn’t let it affect us any more. That game’s in the past. It’s not the result we wanted, but we came out and in practice, there was definitely an edge that showed we wanted to be out there. We weren’t just going to phone it in and just say, ‘Well, we didn’t make the (NCAA) Tournament so we’re done.’ We want to play. Like Scotty said, we’re players, we love to play. We weren’t just going to lay down.”
Senior guard Dylan Royer and freshman forward Zach Gordon each finished with eight points for the Mustangs, who had won six in a row and nine of their last 10 before falling to Pacific in the Big West Tournament semifinals.
Cal Poly’s 18 wins was its second-most in 19 seasons of Division I basketball history.
“The two teams are coming in with a similar situation where we’re both disappointed by not being in the NCAA Tournament,” Cal Poly coach Joe Callero said. “It comes down to sometimes, in that situation, the first team to really get it going builds their confidence and the other team gets a little frustrated. It was a perfect storm. It was as if we were a ship that hit the iceberg and ripped it open. We started taking on water, pressing, trying to get it back. We got down (14-2) and from that point on, we were simply trying to play catch-up, which is not our style of game.”