Weber State basketball shows persistence to beat Duquesne in 63-59 road win
Monday night’s basketball battle in Pittsburgh was a lesson in 40-minute persistence.
For Duquesne, a hot-handed guard who seemed to be willing the Dukes to a win made key errors late. For Weber State, several players who struggled with cold shooting and foul trouble stepped up in the second half.
In Weber State’s first true road game in the Eastern time zone since 2012 — a win over another Atlantic 10 opponent in Dayton — the Wildcats made the right plays down the stretch and claimed a 63-59 win at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
“We played with a whole lot of toughness to come in here and, you know, this is basically our first game, to be honest with you,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “I told them we don’t have to play great as long as we have great toughness and togetherness, and that’s kind of how we did it.”
Weber State (2-0) wing JJ Overton is one example. He played six scoreless minutes in the first half and picked up three fouls as the Wildcats trailed 32-23 at the break. But the Weber staff put him on the floor to start the second half and he scored two buckets inside while picking up key steals and blocks to help a WSU comeback.
Overton finished with eight points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks in 23 minutes, fighting to overcome five turnovers and eventually fouling out with 2 minutes left.
“That’s toughness. You’ve got to be mentally tough to be able to overcome that … and still play well. I thought he really did that,” Rahe said.
Seikou Sisoho Jawara is another example. He, along with most Wildcats, struggled to find rhythm in the first half. He missed three 3-pointers, including one airball. But he knocked down a triple early in the second half on a post feed from Dillon Jones that made it a three-point game.
Jones did it all throughout the game, as usual, and took a rebound coast to coast, scored through contact, and made his free throw to tie the game 39-39 to cap a 16-7 run to start the second half.
Jones finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists.
An Overton drive and score gave WSU its first lead at 46-45 with 11:07 left. At that point, Weber State had scored 23 points in the first nine minutes of the second half, matching its 23-point first half.
WSU senior guard Koby McEwen was a constant from start to finish and knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the night on a tough wing stepback to tie the game 50-50. McEwen scored 21 points to lead Weber State.
Two 2-for-2 Overton free-throw trips and a Cody Carlson post-up bucket later, and Weber found its largest lead of the game at 57-52 with four minutes left.
That’s when Jackie Johnson III stepped up again. The Dukes were inefficient against Weber’s defense all night, finishing 35.6% from the field and 6 of 22 from deep, but Johnson was the hot hand who kept Duquesne going.
Johnson hit the second of two incredibly deep 3-pointers in the second half, then two pairs of Duquesne free-throw trips suddenly saw the Dukes take a 59-57 lead.
That’s when 40-minute persistence again became key.
Sisoho Jawara took the ball well above the arc, burst inside and scooped a high-arcing layup off the glass and in to tie it 59-59 with 1:25 left.
Duquesne called its final timeout to set up its next possession, which went sideways when McEwen chased Johnson up the sideline and toward halfcourt. Carlson went with them and the two Wildcats trapped Johnson with nowhere to go.
Johnson called a timeout Duquesne didn’t have, and McEwen netted a technical free throw to put Weber State up for good.
Johnson, who scored 27 points with four 3-pointers, tested his hot hand one more time and missed a quickly taken, deep 3-pointer. The Dukes got one more chance trailing 60-59 when a deflected ball resulted in McEwen missing a tough prayer from the corner against the shot clock.
Duquesne went to big man Kevin Easley in the high post at the free-throw line to set up its offensive action but, after Sisoho Jawara disrupted a potential hand-off to a guard, Easley faced up and Jones ripped it right out of his hands with 15 seconds left.
Easley had to foul, Jones made both free throws, and that was the game.
Weber State shot 11 of 21 in the second half, including 4 of 9 from the 3-point line.
Sisoho Jawara totaled eight points and four assists, and Carlson added 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Weber State gave up an 11-1 margin on the offensive glass in the first half — “to be honest, they kind of punked us on the boards in the first half,” Rahe said — but only gave up two offensive rebounds in the final 11 minutes.
NOTES & QUOTES
The road game was a one-time matchup commonly called a “buy game.” Duquesne paid Weber State $60,000 for the trip.
It was the Wildcats’ first meeting with Duquesne and the program’s first game played in the state of Pennsylvania.
Weber State continues its road trip to St. Petersburg, Florida, for three games at the Jersey Mike’s Classic held at Eckerd College. Television plans are finalized and Weber’s three games there will be as follows:
Nov. 18: vs. UMass, 3:30 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network
Nov. 19: vs. Ball State, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Nov. 21: vs. Green Bay, 10 a.m., Pluto TV app
“(Duquesne) is a tough game to play and it’s nice to get this one and go into Florida, and I’ll think we’ll play with better rhythm down there, settle in and play a bit better. But again, we get to play another Atlantic 10 school in UMass, who’s always extremely talented and going to be very good,” Rahe said. “But we’ll get better now; this week’s going to tell us what we need to get better at and I think it’s really going to help our team a lot. So we’re excited to get down there.”