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Weber State basketball: Jones pushes Wildcats to edge Sacramento State 52-49

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Feb 16, 2023
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Weber State guard Zahir Porter (0) drives past Sacramento State's Cameron Wilbon (22) on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif.
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Weber State forward Dillon Jones (2) rises to score against Sacramento State on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif.
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Weber State guard Steven Verplancken Jr. (11) shoots over Sacramento State's Austin Patterson (20) on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif.
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Weber State guard Steven Verplancken Jr. (11) shoots over Sacramento State's Cameron Wilbon (22) on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Sacramento, Calif.

Weber State men’s basketball seemed to have control for most of its contest late Thursday at Sacramento State.

The Wildcats led by as many as eight points in the second half, the largest lead in the game, and were in the lead for three times as long as the Hornets were throughout the contest.

But a second-half drought had WSU in trouble. An eight-point lead became a three-point Sac State advantage thanks to an extended 11-2 run and the Wildcats scored just 11 points in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

Then Dillon Jones took over. The third-year forward phenom scored a three-point play, added a single free throw, then later pulled down his own miss and muscled in a putback bucket. His six-point burst put his team back on top 46-43 with 1:40 left.

With others struggling from the free-throw line, center Alex Tew and guard Zahir Porter turned in 2-for-2 trips down the stretch and, similar to the 50-48 decision in Ogden one month ago, Sac State guard Zach Chappell missed a running, banked 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal Weber State’s win.

“Same game … two teams that are very similar,” WSU head coach Eric Duft said. “Just a hard-fought battle. Really proud of our guys’ effort, their toughness, their physicality … it was like an old-fashioned Big Ten football game.”

Jones finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals for Weber State (14-13, 9-5 Big Sky). One of those steals came with 45 seconds left, a pick that ultimately led to Tew’s clutch free throws for a 49-44 advantage with 24.5 ticks remaining.

“Boy, he stepped up. That was huge,” Duft said of Tew’s free throws.

Jones’ 13 rebounds total his career mark to 765, moving him past Richard Smith (1976-80) into sixth place on WSU’s career rebounding list.

Steven Verplancken Jr. added 12 points, including an important 3-pointer to end a drought where WSU scored just one field goal in the space of 8 minutes. Tew finished with 11 points and Porter scored eight. Jones and Porter shared point guard duties as usual starter KJ Cunningham sat with a leg injury.

For a time, Chappell’s 3-point shooting was the main thing keeping Sacramento State (12-15, 5-9) going offensively. He shot 2 of 6 from deep in each half; his 4 of 12 alone outpaced Weber State’s 2-of-12 night from behind the arc. Weber State survived despite Sac state making seven 3-pointers.

Chappell finished with 17 points to lead the Hornets. Big man Akol Mawien scored eight of his 11 points in the second half, all in the space of seven minutes that saw his team go from trailing 32-25 to leading 40-37.

In the first half, WSU flipped a one-possession Sac State advantage into a 20-13 lead when Tew scored on consecutive possessions after grabbing offensive rebounds, then Porter made baskets on two jump shots. Cameron Wilbon scored for the Hornets to make it 26-20 and neither team scored for the final 3:40, making that the halftime score.

Though turnovers were just 10-9 in Weber’s favor, the Wildcats claimed a 13-2 advantage in points off turnovers and 8-0 in fast break points. WSU is now 6-0 in Big Sky games on Thursdays.

Weber State next heads to Portland State for a game at 8 p.m. MT Saturday. The Vikings improved to 6-8 in league play by outlasting Idaho State (also 6-8) 79-70 on Thursday.

Eastern Washington is now 14-0 in league play after blasting Northern Arizona 72-55. Idaho (4-10) topped Northern Colorado (5-10) 84-82 to stop the streaking Bears.


Weber State women’s basketball fell behind 29-18 at halftime and trailed from start to finish in a home loss to Sacramento State on Thursday night, running WSU’s current losing streak to five games and its conference record to 1-13; 11 of those 13 losses are by double digits.

Laura Taylor led Weber State (5-21, 1-13 Big Sky) with 11 points, knocking home her team’s only 3-pointer with 4 seconds left in the game. Jadyn Matthews and Aaliyah Ellis each added 10 points.

Kahlaijah Dean totaled 19 points and seven rebounds for Sacramento State (18-7, 9-5). Isnelle Natabou added 17 points and seven rebounds. The Hornets outrebounded the Wildcats 14-7 on the offensive glass for an 18-4 advantage in second-chance points.

WSU next hosts Portland State at 1 p.m. Saturday.


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