OGDEN — Entering Thursday’s Big Sky Conference men’s basketball matchup in Ogden, it was known Northern Arizona hadn’t played in 19 days due to COVID-19 protocols. What wasn’t publicly known until tipoff was Weber State would be without two starters.
The former seemed to matter more than the latter.
Isiah Brown scored a career-high 31 points, Weber State set a new record for 3-pointers and the Wildcats cruised to a 92-59 blowout victory at the Dee Events Center.
“Defensively, we made it a concerted effort to start the game on that end, try to get out in transition and lead to some open stuff for us,” Brown said. “It translated to the offense ... guys made shots, got stops on the defensive end and executed our game plan like we wanted to.”
With the final bucket of the game, walk-on guard and Davis High alum Josh Sanders stepped into a pull-up 3 and hit. It was WSU’s 18th 3-pointer of the contest, a new school record for 3s made against a Division I opponent. The Wildcats made 17 at Montana State in 2016.
Weber State (13-5, 8-3 Big Sky) was without starting wing Zahir Porter due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, and without starting forward Dontay Bassett due to a non-COVID illness.
Freshman Dillon Jones started for Porter and senior Michal Kozak started for Bassett. The offense was somewhat hit or miss early, holding a 22-20 lead after the first 14 minutes.
But Brown scored 10 of his team’s 22 points in the final six minutes, Kozak and Seikou Sisoho Jawara each hit a 3-pointer, and the Wildcats went into the locker room up 44-28.
If it wasn’t elementary from there, senior big man Cody Carlson joined Brown in making sure it was when the teams returned to the floor.
Carlson scored inside and drilled a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to open the second half before Brown nailed a pair of 3s to put the home team up 55-31 less than 3 minutes into the half.
That ballooned to a 31-point lead when Sisoho Jawara and KJ Cunningham hit consecutive 3s and Carlson added a dunk for an 81-50 advantage.
Brown added five assists to his scoring effort. Carlson totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds, Kozak added 12 points and four assists, and Sisoho Jawara scored 12 points.
In his first career start, Jones totaled three points, six rebounds and eight assists.
“His passing was off the charts,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “I think he got (Brown) about half of those points tonight. Dillon’s a Swiss Army knife. He does a whole bunch of different things for you, he can play multiple positions and I really like how he played tonight.”
For Northern Arizona (5-12, 4-7), Cam Shelton struggled but scored 21 points to keep his league-leading average static. He was 2 of 8 in the first half for seven points and came on after the game got out of hand. Luke Avdalovic added 12 points on three 3-pointers.
Junior big man David Nzekwesi scored two points and grabbed five rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench for WSU. Cunningham scored nine points on three 3-pointers.
Brown said the team knew yesterday they’d be without the two starters.
“I think everybody’s got an incredible amount of belief in each other and we didn’t flinch,” Brown said.
The two teams meet again at noon Saturday. Rahe said he expects Porter to play but Bassett is likely out until next week.
“(Northern Arizona) was rusty, they’re a lot better than what they showed tonight,” Rahe said. “We know we’re going to have to step up our game on Saturday because they’ll step up theirs.”