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McEwen’s 30, second-half surge push Weber State basketball past Ball State 85-74

By Brett Hein - | Nov 19, 2021

Kyzer Armendariz, for Weber State Athletics

Weber State guard Zahir Porter readies to shoot a free throw against Ball State on Friday, Nov 19, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

After clawing back from a sluggish first half to take a six-point lead early in the second frame, Weber State men’s basketball found itself on the wrong end of a run of Ball State 3-pointers and trailed by nine with 13 minutes left in its second game at the Jersey Mike’s Classic in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The next 10 minutes were a complete wipeout in Weber State’s favor.

Koby McEwen put his stamp on the game with three 3-pointers to key a comeback, finished with 30 points, and WSU scored 34 points over a 10-minute stretch on the way to an 85-74 win Friday evening at Eckerd College.

Weber State is 4-0 for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

“It was ugly,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “You’ve got to learn to win in different ways. It’s not always going to be clean, it’s not always going to be easy.”

McEwen’s run of three straight 3s ended with a miss, but he scrapped to steal a pass in the backcourt after the rebound, scored, was fouled, and made his free throw to tie the game 64-64 with eight minutes left.

“He’s tough, man. He’s tough, he’s competitive, and he’s really confident,” Rahe said about McEwen. “He was shooting the ball well, got to the rim a few times and, when we didn’t have everybody playing their best offense, he was terrific.”

As hot as Weber got to flip a 57-48 deficit into an 82-71 lead, the Wildcats clamped down on defense to create several transition buckets, finishing with 25 fast-break points.

Freshman forward Dillon Jones finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals, and played center for a small-ball lineup that helped spark the big run.

“His leadership, his talk, his toughness, he just has an effect on everything that goes on out there. He had a great game today,” Rahe said about Jones. “He’s guarding a 6-foot-9, 250-pound kid and the kid can’t score on him. Dillon’s tough on tough. I thought he was outstanding tonight.”

After JJ Overton — who finished with 13 points — knocked down four free throws to help WSU trade blows and take a 70-69 lead, he flew in and tipped a BSU layup attempt that sparked a fast break. McEwen raced into the paint and kicked to Seikou Sisoho Jawara on the left wing, who canned a 3-pointer in a game-changing sequence.

“That was a huge play. They had a layup, it looked like he was getting to the rim, and JJ came from nowhere and blocked it,” Rahe said.

Jones added a tough drive and spin move for a three-point play at the rim to make it 80-71 with 2:53 left, and Ball State couldn’t recover.

Weber State scored 50 points in the second half, shooting 17 of 29 from the field and 4 of 10 from deep. In the first two games of the tournament, Weber State is shooting 37 of 58 (64%) in the second half.

Overall, WSU shot 52% from the field and 20 of 26 from the foul line, fouling out two opponents and racking up 28 fouls against the Cardinals with constant offensive pressure.

Overton added seven rebounds and McEwen five. Sisoho Jawara had three assists in the first half and finished with nine points despite an early struggle. Zahir Porter chipped in seven points.

Luke Bumbalough led Ball State with 14 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the second half before cooling off. Big man Payton Sparks scored 13 points, giving Weber a handful inside in the first half for 11 points but finding limited impact in the second.

Weber State has Saturday off and concludes the event with a matchup Sunday against Green Bay. That game tips off at 10 a.m. MST and will stream on channel 725 of the Pluto TV app.

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