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Jones saves Weber State from South Dakota State rally, beats the buzzer in 75-73 win

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Jan 3, 2024

Freddie Lacey, WSU Athletics

Weber State's Dillon Jones (2) shoots a jumper over South Dakota State's Kalen Garry (10) on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, in Ogden.

OGDEN — Several NBA scouts requested spots for Wednesday night’s game at the Dee Events Center one month in advance, and, with five of them in attendance, it only took a handful of minutes to figure out why.

And at closing time, Weber State men’s basketball needed its star to show out on one more play.

With the game seemingly in hand, South Dakota State rallied 15-2 down the stretch and its own pro prospect, guard Zeke Mayo, put in his 19th and 20th points of the night on a driving layup to knot the game 73-73 with 29 seconds left.

But Dillon Jones capped one of the finest games of his career with his answer. He took the clock down, worked into the paint, put his back to SDSU’s Kalen Garry, turned and pushed a 7-foot fadeaway through the net at the buzzer to give Weber State a 75-73 victory.

Jones finished with 23 points, nine assists and six rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting, picking apart yet another defense for long stretches and kept from a massive assist total only through missed, open attempts as WSU shot 13 of 33 from the 3-point line against South Dakota State’s packed-in defense.

“I really, really respect South Dakota State and I told our team it’s going to be one of the best mid-major games in the country. They’re a championship team,” WSU head coach Eric Duft said. “Just really proud of our team … just a tremendous win for Weber State basketball.”

Weber State (10-4) seemed to have the game put away in the second half, leading by double digits for several stretches. Mayo splashed home his fourth 3 of the game with a stepback over Jones, and Jones answered with a smooth fadeaway in the paint to put WSU up 55-44.

But Jones left the game at the 13:38 mark with a tweaked knee and South Dakota State won the five minutes he was in the locker room 12-5.

Still, when Jones re-entered, he immediately assisted a 3-pointer to Dyson Koehler and a backdoor cut to Steven Verplancken Jr. — his only make on a 1-of-12 shooting night — on consecutive possessions.

Blaise Threatt kept the run going after a timeout with a pull-up 3-pointer — he was 4 of 4 from deep — and Jones drove the lane for a three-point play to put WSU up 71-58 with 5:53 left.

The Jackrabbits (7-8) broke through for one final run in a game full of them, stringing together 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions (three of their nine deep makes in the game, on 22 attempts) to tighten things up, including one from Matt Mims resulting from a steal during a full-court press.

“I thought we played really well for about 37 minutes then kind of quit playing there, the last three minutes defensively,” Duft said. “But proud of our guys to find a way … Dillon, with his knee the way it was … we changed our defense and we just kind of made some uncharacteristic mistakes.”

A high-arcing, floating layup from Threatt gave WSU its only points for nearly six minutes down the stretch, leading to Mayo’s game-tying layup with 29 seconds left.

Weber State did not call timeout, allowing Jones to dribble down the clock near midcourt and make his game-winning move. Referees put 0.1 seconds back on the clock and SDSU couldn’t tip a full-court heave toward the basket to end the game.

Threatt finished with 17 points and Koehler pitched in 15. Alex Tew scored seven points with a career-high 10 rebounds.

William Kyle (15 points) and Luke Appel (13) were a handful in the post for Weber State as the Wildcats tried to head off the dynamic Mayo off the dribble. Those two combined for 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

Mayo and Jones dazzled the crowd and the table full of scouts in the first half.

Mayo drained three tough, contested, rise-and-fire 3-pointers all before the first media timeout, which came five minutes late at the 11:07 mark. SDSU led 14-7 on an 11-2 run, WSU led 19-17 on a 12-3 answer, then the Jackrabbits went ahead 28-23 on a 9-0 run.

Jones had his moment as part of a 12-0 run that saw the 6-foot-6 star drain 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, giving him four in the first half and leading to a 35-28 advantage.

WSU took a 40-35 lead into halftime.

The game was part of the first leg in the inaugural Big Sky-Summit Challenge. The Big Sky went 5-4 with three road wins on Wednesday. Weber State travels to Oral Roberts, who held off Montana State on Wednesday and has a 21-game home winning streak (the longest in the nation), on the second day of the challenge Saturday.

A points system gives one point for a home win and 1 1/2 points for a road win. Including men’s and women’s results (the WSU women did not play Wednesday), the challenge is tied 11-11 after the first day.


Weber State 75, South Dakota State 73

Eastern Washington 93, South Dakota 79

Montana 96, North Dakota State 86

Northern Colorado 97, North Dakota 87

Sacramento State 67, Kansas City 64

Oral Roberts 82, Montana State 76

Denver 95, Idaho State 82 (OT)

Omaha 81, Northern Arizona 55


Idaho 60, Denver 51

Montana State 65, North Dakota State 45

Montana 74, South Dakota 61

Eastern Washington 96, Omaha 82

South Dakota State 110, Northern Arizona 102 (2OT)

North Dakota 78, Idaho State 72

Kansas City 75, Portland State 56

Oral Roberts 81, Northern Colorado 80 (OT)

St. Thomas 70, Sacramento State 52


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