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Jones leads another both-ends effort, Weber State basketball routs Montana State 86-64

Koehler boosts Wildcats with near-perfect shooting week

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Dec 30, 2023
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Weber State's Dyson Koehler rises to make a 3-pointer against Montana State on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Ogden.
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Montana State's Eddie Turner III (3) drives against Weber State's Viljami Vartiainen (8) on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Ogden.
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Weber State's Steven Verplancken Jr. (11) rises to shoot over Montana State's Tyler Patterson on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Ogden.
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Weber State's Alex Tew (20) scores against Montana State's Brian Goracke (21) on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Ogden.
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Weber State's Steven Verplancken Jr., left, shoots a layup against Montana State's Brandon Walker (0) on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Ogden.

OGDEN — Second-year head coach Eric Duft stared at the box score after finishing postgame interviews Saturday evening at the Dee Events Center.

“I had a season once like Dillon had tonight,” he quipped.

Dillon Jones, likely securing another conference player of the week honor, moved up multiple Weber State career leaderboards, scoring a career-high 29 points while totaling 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals, leading the Wildcat men to an 86-64 victory over Montana State.

Saturday brought another both-ends masterpiece that moves Weber State (9-4) to 2-0 in Big Sky play after a 30-point win Thursday over Montana.

All five starters scored in double figures for Weber State, and junior wing Dyson Koehler nearly finished with a perfect shooting week. He totaled 12 points and eight rebounds on 4 of 4 shooting, including 2 of 2 from deep. He missed one free throw Saturday after being fouled while scoring an offensive-rebound putback; otherwise this week, he shot 8 of 8 from the field, 5 of 5 from the 3-point line and 6 of 7 from the foul line.

Koehler credits a talk with Duft and Jones, the scout team, and the coaches’ game plans for his surge in production and efficiency.

“We all trust each other, we’ve just been playing simple basketball, making the right plays,” Koehler said. “Just play free, that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Steven Verplancken Jr. scored 14 points, Alex Tew added 12 points and Blaise Threatt pitched in 11 points and six rebounds.

Montana State (6-7, 1-1 Big Sky) kept pace for the first 10 minutes of the game, thanks mostly to Tyler Patterson and Eddie Turner III shooting a combined 7 of 12 from the 3-point line in the first half. A Patterson triple made the score 19-18.

Turner led MSU with 18 points and Patterson netted 14 (only two in the second-half), while sophomore transfer post Brandon Walker totaled 17 points with a 12-point surge after halftime.

Using defense and a mix of post-ups to Tew, rebound putbacks and transition buckets, Weber State went on a 16-1 run to go up 35-19 when Threatt scored on a fast-break assist from Jones at the 5:31 mark of the first half.

“We were able to clamp down and get set,” Jones said. “We’re not doing a bunch of wild stuff, making these wild plays, it’s just us being solid (on defense). Once we were able to get back and get set, and get our switches executed … that’s what blew it open.”

WSU went nearly 30 minutes of game time without a 3-point make (on few attempts), giving the Bobcats a handful in the paint (where Weber scored 44 points to MSU’s 26) and drawing fouls against an overmatched defense (WSU shot 24 of 35 from the foul line).

MSU twice cut the deficit to eight points early in the second half but a Tew dunk from a Threatt dish, a Jones give-and-go transition score from Koehler, and a Jones post-up bucket led the Wildcats on a 16-6 run that built the lead to 61-43 with 13:55 left.

“We didn’t make a lot shots early (this season) but we believe we were running good stuff,” Jones said. “I give a lot of credit to Blaise, making a lot of good plays, a lot of good reads … (MSU) just wanted to hug me a lot tonight, denying me so if I just walk to halfcourt and if we have a guy who can turn the corner, it’s an easy decision after that.”

Jones later broke Weber’s 3-point absence with a triple, Verplancken hit his own on the next possession, and WSU had iced the game at 75-54 with 5:45 remaining.

The big game sent Jones past several names on WSU’s career leaderboards. First, he passed Jimmie Watts into third place for all-time rebounds with 960. Jones passed Scott Bamforth, Cody John and Harold Arceneaux to move into 12th in scoring (1,360 points), and he overtook Jordan Richardson for eighth place in assists (303). He needs two assists to move into sixth place.

Jones is also fourth in steals with 170, needing nine to pass Jermaine Boyette, Damien Baskerville and Eddie Gill to take over the No. 1 spot.

In 80 game minutes of the weekend sweep against the visiting Treasure State teams, Weber State led for 70 minutes and 26 seconds — and led by 10 or more points for about 50 of those minutes. In the two games, WSU shot 59 of 103 (57.3%) overall and 15 of 26 (57.7%) from the 3-point line.

“It comes from preparation,” Jones said. “We work on ball-screen stuff, making the right reads every day. I know if a guy like Blaise makes one (read) wrong, he’s going to get the next three right … you don’t know when those misses are going to come so it’s our job to just stay with the process and keep taking the right shots.”

Weber State pauses league play for two games in the Big Sky-Summit Challenge, hosting South Dakota State on Wednesday, Jan. 3, and going to Oral Roberts on Saturday, Jan. 6.


Eastern Washington also secured its second blowout win to start league play, crushing Sacramento State at home. Weber, EWU and Northern Colorado (at 1-0) are currently unbeaten.

Eastern Washington 87, Sacramento State 61

Northern Colorado 92, Northern Arizona 77

Portland State 77, Idaho 72

Montana 76, Idaho State 68


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