McEwen’s 31, Koehler’s clutch buckets put Weber State past Montana State 85-75
Koby McEwen did much of the heavy lifting as Weber State men’s basketball got off to a hot start Thursday night in Bozeman during a matchup at Montana State.
But it was freshman Dyson Koehler who sparked the Wildcats out of a slump and, ultimately, to a win.
McEwen scored 31 points, shooting 5 of 7 from deep and just shy of his career-high 32, and Koehler’s clutch plays led Weber State to an 85-75 win.
“He was really good tonight. He carried us in a lot of ways tonight,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said of McEwen. “He works so hard. He lives in the gym … he deserves to have a night like this.”
Weber State (10-4, 3-0 Big Sky) led for 28 minutes of the game but the teams were locked in a free-throw battle in the second half — most of the 11 ties and 12 lead changes came in the second half as both teams paraded to the line.
A drive from Seikou Sisoho Jawara — his only field goal of the game — put Weber up 57-56 with just more than 12 minutes to play.
WSU hung tough from the free-throw line and used a 1-3-1 zone trap to slow the Bobcats, but trailed 65-64 after going 6 minutes without a field goal.
That’s when Koehler made his mark. He canned a corner 3 on a drive-and-kick from Dillon Jones then, on the next possession, Rahe called a set for Koehler who knifed through traffic in the paint, took a Sisoho Jawara pass and knocked in a 3-pointer from straight away.
And on the next possession, Koehler took a dish on the baseline from Alex Tew after an offensive rebound and was fouled on a dunk attempt, making both free throws.
Nine of Koehler’s 11 points came in that 90-second stretch to put WSU up 72-68.
“They kind of pulled up, and it’s one of those deals where if you don’t score, they might get up four and the home team gets going,” Rahe said. “I thought those 3s were really good as far as getting the momentum back on our side.”
JJ Overton nailed a corner 3-pointer for Weber State’s final make from deep to make it 77-72 with 2:45 left and, from there, it was a matter of a filthy Jones spin and scoop, and then free throws.
And boy were there free throws.
WSU shot 6 of 8 from the charity stripe in the final minute, while MSU was 1 of 4. For the game, MSU shot 30 of 38 at the foul line and Weber 29 of 38. The physical, tightly called game resulted in those 76 foul shots on 52 total fouls.
Jones finished with 19 points and six rebounds, knocking down a pair of 3s. Overton pitched in 16 points.
Cody Carlson grabbed four rebounds after being inserted back in the starting lineup, and Alex Tew totaled three rebounds and two steals. Neither scored while battling MSU big man Jubrile Belo, who led the Bobcats with 22 points.
Tew’s two steals came in close proximity down the stretch. His first led to Koehler’s second 3-pointer and, two minutes later, he nabbed the ball away from MSU guard Xavier Bishop during a pick-and-roll play, throwing ahead to McEwen for a transition dunk that made it 74-70.
“He just battled. He played really hard, got his hands on loose balls, knocked some rebounds away and we were able to get it,” Rahe said about Tew. “He just played really physical, plays with a lot of energy and is active. I thought he was really effective defensively for us.”
Weber State excelled Thursday in both areas that were key in four straight losses to Division I opponents, shooting 12 of 20 from the 3-point line while holding Montana State to a 3-of-20 mark.
HICKOK LEADS WSU WOMEN
Weber State women’s basketball is off to a 2-1 start for the first time since the 2017-18 season by outscoring Montana State in the second half for a 68-63 win Thursday night at the Dee Events Center.
Daryn Hickok totaled 28 points and nine rebounds, drawing a whopping 11 MSU fouls, to lead Weber State (6-6, 2-1 Big Sky). Hickok broke open a back-and-forth fourth quarter with two baseline drives, with the second coming with a foul and a made free throw to put her team up 58-52 with 3 minutes left.
Emma Torbert totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds for Weber State, and Jadyn Matthews added 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
WSU held off a great performance from MSU guard Darian White, who totaled 29 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Weber State held MSU to six points in the first quarter, forcing eight turnovers and a 3-of-16 shooting mark.
The Wildcats won their sixth game of the season, matching their win total from the last two seasons combined. They next host Montana at 1 p.m. Saturday.