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Dillon Jones again wills Weber State basketball to victory, topping PSU 65-57

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Feb 18, 2023

Larry Lawson, Portland State Athletics

Weber State center Alex Tew (20) reaches for the basketball with Portland State's Jacob Eyman (32) on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, in Portland, Ore.

It was a case of trading places Saturday night.

Wearing a custom-made Weber State black uniform, Portland Trail Blazers’ seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard won the NBA All-Star 3-point contest in Salt Lake City.

Weber State men’s basketball, meanwhile, was in Portland to take on the Portland State Vikings and trying to earn a 2-0 road trip on the West Coast.

Lillard took his 3-point shooting with him from Portland to Utah but otherwise, Weber State returned the favor with a 65-57 win over PSU to run the Wildcats’ league record to 10-5.

The Wildcats (15-13, 10-5 Big Sky) could never quite put away the Vikings (12-16, 6-9) but were able to turn away every charge — mostly created by crafty point guard Cam Parker — and never allowed PSU to take the lead after breaking a halftime tie with an Alex Tew bucket at the 19:00 mark.

There were eight ties but only four lead changes and Weber State led for 31:30 of game time.

“We played the game on our terms. We didn’t let them get up and down, play crazy and fast, and get the game sped up on us,” WSU head coach Eric Duft said. “The guys were fantastic tonight.”

Star forward Dillon Jones was the catalyst yet again for the Wildcats. After picking up his fourth personal infraction on an offensive foul call — eight such fouls were called against WSU on Saturday night — Jones scored 11 of his team’s 14 points in the final 4 minutes to bring home the win.

Jones finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. It was his 17th double-double of the season, the third-most nationally.

“We just trusted that he would make the right plays. He’s as cerebral a player as there is,” Duft said. “I don’t know what else to say about him. He’s grown up so much and just every night, we’re putting the ball in his hands time after time and he keeps coming up big for us.”

When PSU guard Bobby Harvey made a 3-pointer — he was 3 of 8, the rest of his team 0 of 11 from deep — to make it 51-49, Jones answered with a driving bucket.

After a Parker and-one made it 54-52, Jones answered with an ice-in-his-veins, stepback 3 — one of only three triples as Weber shot 3 of 12 from deep — to keep his team up five with 2:30 left.

Parker and Jones exchanged two more points each way before Jones again drove to the rim and finished over two Vikings leaping high for a futile block attempt. That made it 61-57 with 1 minute remaining.

Weber finally got a stop when Harvey missed a 3 and Jones pulled down yet another rebound; he remains the country’s best defensive rebounder by a considerable margin.

Jones and Steven Verplancken Jr. each made good on two free-throw trips in the final 30 seconds to account for the final margin.

Parker shot 4 of 7 from the field in the second half; all other Vikings were 5 of 22.

“I thought defensively we were just locked in the whole night,” Duft said. “It was on our players tonight … this is a tough road trip, it’s a long flight in between (Sacramento and Portland) and not too many teams are winning that second game right now on the road. It was all about our guys’ effort and fight and will to just find a way.

“We came on this trip, made five 3s total and won two games. That’s a testament to how hard our guys play.”

Verplancken finished with 10 points to supplement Jones. Tew and Zahir Porter finished with nine points apiece, with Porter making two steals and several important baskets in the first half. Tew added seven rebounds, including four on the offensive glass; WSU outrebounded PSU by a 13-10 mark on offensive rebounds and 42-28 overall.

KJ Cunningham returned to WSU’s starting lineup after not playing Thursday, worked through leg troubles and scored five points while dishing four assists.

Parker finished with 25 points and six assists for Portland State. Isaiah Johnson finished with 15 points, which included scoring 11 of his team’s first 15 points to open the game.

The victory helps set up a home showdown for third-place Weber State, which welcomes first-place Eastern Washington (21-7, 15-0) to Ogden on Thursday. The Eagles have the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games and are poised to become the first team to finish Big Sky play undefeated since Weber State did it in 2003. EWU has defeated its last five opponents handily since escaping with a 75-71 home win over Weber State on Jan. 28.

Eastern Washington already has at least a share of the Big Sky championship. Montana State, which defeated Montana on Saturday, is three games back in second place at 12-3; one more EWU win or MSU loss delivers EWU an outright title.

Montana (8-7), meanwhile, finds itself two games behind Weber State in fourth place. WSU can finish no lower than fourth place and has won at least 10 Big Sky games in 15 of the last 17 years.


Trailing by four after the first quarter, the Weber State women’s basketball team controlled the game from there and broke a five-game losing streak by defeating PSU in Ogden on Saturday afternoon.

Laura Taylor shot 3 of 8 from downtown, half of her team’s 3-point makes, and her final triple was a big one. Taylor knocked down a left-wing 3 with 58 seconds left to put WSU up 59-55.

Forward Jadyn Matthews led Weber State (6-21, 2-13 Big Sky) with 21 points and 11 rebound. Point guard Kaiija Lesane added 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.


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