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Weber State basketball: Drought spoils rally, WSU falls to Colgate 57-55 in game of runs

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Nov 19, 2023
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Weber State's Dillon Jones (2) operates against Colgate's defense at the Atlantic Slam on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Moncton, New Brunswick.
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Weber State's Alex Tew, center left, works in the post against Colgate's Ryan Moffatt at the Atlantic Slam on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Moncton, New Brunswick.
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Weber State's Viljami Vartiainen (8) drives against Colgate's Ryan Moffatt (4) at the Atlantic Slam on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Moncton, New Brunswick.
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Weber State's Blaise Threatt (0) shoots against Colgate's Keegan Records (14) at the Atlantic Slam on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Both Weber State and Colgate went through long periods of shooting struggles alternated with strong scoring sequences, legs perhaps tired at the end of the Atlantic Slam in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Weber State got fresh legs and a new offensive dynamic with sophomore Louie Jordan at center to mount a massive rally, only for the ebb to flow back Colgate's way down the stretch.

WSU went more than eight minutes without a field goal and Colgate rallied, then held on, for a 57-55 victory Sunday afternoon at the Avenir Centre.

Dillon Jones led Weber State (3-2) with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Steven Verplancken Jr. and Dyson Koehler each scored 10 points, with Jordan pitching in nine.

For Colgate (3-2), Ryan Moffatt hit five 3s for 15 points and dynamic guard Braeden Smith added 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Moffatt was 5 of 11 from deep while the rest of the Raiders shot 4 of 14.

"Proud of our effort today," WSU head coach Eric Duft said. "Didn't play great but played really hard. Played four high-level teams on this road trip and it will be good for us moving forward."

Weber State won the second-chance points tally 10-9 but it felt like each of Colgate's was particularly impactful, including two 3-pointers. Nicolas Louis-Jacques scored on a second-chance bucket to put Colgate ahead 33-22 with 16:05 left in the game.

Koehler snapped a string of 10 missed 3-pointers for Weber State, making a contested shot that ultimately began a massive WSU rally.

Jordan, off the bench and perhaps a better matchup for Colgate's stretch bigs in Moffatt and Keegan Records, made three 3-pointers in the space of five minutes. His final make gave WSU a 41-38 lead, its first advantage in nearly 20 minutes of game time.

KJ Cunningham hit a corner 3 on a dish from Jones, then Jones crossed his defender over and soared for a layup to cap the rally at 24-5, giving the Wildcats a 46-38 lead with 8:20 left.

Colgate called timeout, and Weber State nearly went the rest of the game without a field goal.

Moffatt hit a pair of big 3s and Colgate went on an 18-4 run as WSU missed 10 straight field goal attempts. A pair of Smith free throws put the Raiders ahead 56-50 with 36.5 seconds left.

Somehow, it wasn't over. Verplancken made a pair of free throws after he grabbed an offensive rebound, then Koehler caught an airballed Jordan corner 3, flipped it over his shoulder while fouled and banked it in with 5.3 seconds left.

He made his free throw and it was 56-55.

Smith made 1 of 2 foul shots and Jones pushed a rebound to midcourt for a timeout with 2.5 seconds left. But on the ensuing inbound, Smith picked off Koehler's pass attempt to Jordan, ending the game.

WSU was 5 of 10 from the 3-point line in the second half after the Cunningham corner make but finished with seven straight misses. Both teams missed five free throws but Jones, who was one of the best freebie shooters in the country, shot 1 of 5.

WSU started strong enough. Verplancken hit his first two 3-pointers and Jones also connected from deep as teams traded baskets. But those two would combine to miss their final eight 3-point attempts.

Weber led at 11-10 with 12:29 left in the first half before a slow Colgate rally (both teams went scoreless for more than five minutes) got the Raiders up 25-16 with 2:32 remaining.

Weber got a paint bucket from Alex Tew and a Koehler dunk off an inbound play, but Louis-Jacques hit a second-chance 3 to end the first half and put Colgate up 28-20.

Teams usually talk about in-season, multi-team events as good approximations for conference tournaments down the road and Weber State engaged in a pretty good proxy. The Wildcats beat Yale in overtime, lost to Gardner-Webb by one and Colgate by two in an event with three predicted conference champions.

The Wildcats showed why they'll be tough to beat in the Big Sky (defense), but also had some glaring weaknesses revealed and lessons to learn (long field-goal droughts resulting in losing substantial second-half leads in all three games) as they return home to Ogden after more than 10 days on the road, beginning with the trip to Saint Mary's.

"We haven't shot the ball as well as we are capable of yet and still need to find a better rhythm on offense," Duft said. "So to be in four close games and finding a way to win two of them is a testament to our players and their competitive character."

WSU next suits up Monday, Nov. 27, hosting non-NCAA team Navajo Tech before getting back into the meat of the schedule that still has Utah Valley, Nevada, Wyoming and South Dakota State ahead.


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