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Weber State basketball ends nation’s longest home winning streak, beats Oral Roberts 83-78

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Jan 6, 2024
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Weber State's Alex Tew (20) dunks against Oral Roberts on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Tulsa, Okla.
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Weber State's Dillon Jones (2) penetrates the Oral Roberts defense on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Tulsa, Okla.
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Weber State guard Blaise Threatt (0) brings the ball up the court against Oral Roberts guard Issac McBride (10) on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Tulsa, Okla.
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Weber State's Dillon Jones, center, dribbles against Oral Roberts on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Tulsa, Okla.

Road wins are tough for a reason, especially when trying to end the longest home winning streak in Division I men’s basketball.

So after star forward Dillon Jones helped Weber State take control down the stretch at Oral Roberts, the Golden Eagles made things difficult.

WSU had locked down one of the country’s best 3-point shooting teams (13th by percentage against Division-I opponents) to a 5-of-17 mark and led 76-65 with 1:04 left on two Blaise Threatt free throws.

Over the course of the next 40 seconds, Jailen Bedford made both of his 3-pointers for the game, both well-contested, and Issac McBride drained a tough, stepback 3 from straightaway. Add in a layup off a turnover and Oral Roberts had the deficit to 79-76 with 23.8 seconds remaining.

But Weber State finally got a stop, Jones shot 4 of 4 from the foul line in the final 15 seconds and WSU survived with an 83-78 victory, stopping a streak of 21 straight for Oral Roberts at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Weber had the toughest one-two draw in the Big Sky-Summit Challenge and claimed a 2-0 mark.

“We needed good, close games and got that, two great programs (this week) that I have a lot of respect for,” WSU head coach Eric Duft said. “When I was young, I used to come to work at team camps here. Bill Self was the coach. They’ve got a great tradition, they’ve been really good, so it’s a good night for Weber State.”

Jones scored 22 of his 26 points after halftime, adding 10 rebounds and six assists. He shot 10 of 13 on two-pointers (WSU as a team was 23 of 33 inside the arc).

“He sees the game, sees the matchups,” Duft said about Jones. “Very cerebral player. I mean, he’s physically very gifted but he’s very cerebral, too.”

Dyson Koehler continued his big-shot play and totaled 17 points. Threatt added 13 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Alex Tew netted 10 first-half points.

The game turned with nine minutes left after WSU led by a bucket or so for most of the half. Reserve center Arnaud Revaz caught a pass near the top of the key, quickly turned for a dish to KJ Cunningham and Duft had already started clapping on the sideline. The senior guard knocked down his open 3-pointer from the wing to complete the sequence.

On the next trip, Koehler grabbed an offensive rebound and found the ball back in his hands for a straightaway 3-pointer, and WSU led 61-54 with eight minutes left. It was Koehler’s third 3 of the half and fourth of the game; WSU shot 2 of 11 from downtown in the first half but 4 of 8 in the second.

Jones took over from there, ultimately making Weber’s final five field goals. He started his run with a breathtaking bank shot from a spot 18 feet away on the wing. He drove the lane twice for buckets at the rim, hit a pull-up jumper at the foul line coming out of a timeout against the shot clock, then dropped in a high-arcing floater in the paint. The final make gave WSU a 73-65 lead with 2:22 left.

“They were being really aggressive (against me) early on and I think, just as the game wore down on them, I started to see what they were doing, dissecting the game,” Jones said. “So I made a couple aggressive plays and I think they didn’t know how to respond to it.”

Weber State (11-4) seemed to have the game salted away after stops and free throws for the 11-point advantage before the downpour of 3s from Oral Roberts.

It was the second such disappearance of a double-digit lead for both of Weber State’s games in the Big Sky-Summit Challenge, but Saturday’s in Tulsa was different than Wednesday’s in Ogden. Wednesday’s surrender of a 15-2 run to South Dakota State came on bunches of open 3s; Saturday’s end-of-game flurry was simply difficult shotmaking.

“I thought it was a way different situation than the other night,” Duft said. “We were there, we were switching, they were shooting them over hands … we were just kind of laughing on the bench, they kept making hero shots. Those were tough, contested 3s.”

McBride finished with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting for the Eagles (7-8). Sir Issac Herron had 13 points and Bedford pitched in 12. Guard Kareem Thompson netted just 10 points; he entered shooting 46% from 3 against Division I opponents but was 0 of 4 Saturday.

Saturday’s game provided one of the more thrilling runs of play in recent memory for the ORU crowd and those watching nationally on CBS Sports Network.

WSU’s Viljami Vartiainen knocked down two free throws coming out of a timeout to cut the Oral Roberts lead to 20-14 with 11:04 left in the first half. A few plays later, McBride scored a three-point play, giving the home team what would be its largest lead of the game at 25-16, and making Oral Roberts 8 of its last 9 field goal attempts.

It was an onslaught Weber State seemed to be struggling to stop, but the tide turned. Tew dunked twice and got a layup once on dishes from Jones and Threatt; all 10 of Tew’s points came on first-half roll action by way of three dunks and two layups.

Steven Verplancken Jr. ended his drought of 10 straight 3-point misses with a triple, later knocked down a two-point jump shot, and Threatt scored on a drive. McBride helped ORU somewhat keep pace and neither team blinked, keeping the ball in play for almost 10 consecutive minutes without a foul, timeout or dead-ball turnover.

The run finally ended when Koehler swished a 3 on an assist from Jones and Duft called a timeout for WSU — with only 1:35 left until halftime. That capped a 16-6 Weber State run for a brief 38-36 lead; the Wildcats outscored the Eagles 26-14 in that stretch of 9:39, including 18-8 on points in the paint.

The game went to halftime tied 38-38.

Big Sky men’s teams went 6-3 to conclude the final day of the interconference challenge; Weber State was the only men’s team to win on the road Saturday. Using a point system that gives 1.5 points for road wins and one point for home wins, and across men’s and women’s games, the challenge finished tied at 21.5 to 21.5.

The first tiebreaker is overall point differential, where the Summit League came out with a 102-point advantage over all 36 games — denying an arm-wrestling battle between the two conference commissioners at the Final Four in April as the final decider and delivering the challenge trophy to the Summit League.

Riding a six-game winning streak, Weber State returns to conference play but remains on the road with contests at Sacramento State (4-11, 0-2 Big Sky) on Thursday, Jan. 11, and Portland State (10-5, 1-1) on Saturday, Jan. 13.


Weber State women’s basketball lost its only game in the Big Sky-Summit Challenge, dropping its fifth straight game in a home defeat to Kansas City.

WSU shot 21 of 26 from the foul line but that wasn’t enough to overcome a 13-of-48 (27.1%) mark from the field. Weber State (3-12) led by a 3-2 score for a total of 13 seconds but the Kangaroos built a 17-9 lead after one quarter and were never really threatened after that.

Daryn Hickok scored 16 points and backup post Taylor Smith added 11; those two shot 9 of 15 from the floor while the rest of the Wildcats were 4 of 33. Matthews added 10 points by shooting 8 of 8 at the free-throw line, and she pulled down nine rebounds.

Alayna Contreras scored 20 points for Kansas City (9-8) to lead all scorers.


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