And even when the Wildcats did find open looks in the second half, they just wouldn’t fall and the Vandals claimed a 68-62 win at the Dee Events Center.
Senior guard Ryan Richardson made a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats (19-9, 12-4 Big Sky) a 55-54 lead with less than eight minutes to play, but the Vandals (20-8, 12-4) locked down and held WSU to one field goal and seven points for the rest of the game.
Weber State went 1 of 9 from the field in the stretch.
“We missed open shots,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “Overall, we defended well enough. We took away a lot of their 3s. They’re a good defensive team, but I feel like we had open shots that normally go in, and they just didn’t go in tonight. Just got to tip your cap to them.”
On what was potentially his final game inside the Dee Events Center, Richardson finished with a game-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
Senior guard Dusty Baker scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 4 of 7 from deep, adding a game-high eight assists.
“It’s not the way we wanted to go out as seniors,” Baker said. “But we have more important dreams than just this one game.”
Weber State held Idaho, the third-best 3-point shooting team in the country, to just 8 of 23 (34.8 percent). Weber State, the best 3-point shooting team in the country, was 12 of 24 at one point, but finished 13 of 30, still a solid 43.3 percent.
But the Wildcats shot only 38.9 percent overall.
The beginning of the game was very different from the end. Six of the Wildcats’ first eight shots dropped for an early 15-8 lead. The hot shooting continued to build the lead to as high as 26-16 midway through the first half.
The Vandals showed why they were picked to finish on top of the Big Sky Conference, and used defense to lead to offense — including two steals and layups by Victor Sanders, who finished with 11 points — to erase the deficit.
Weber State finished the half with a 5-0 run to take a 37-32 advantage at the break, marking the first time this season the Wildcats lost a game after leading at halftime.
The two teams stayed within five points of each other to start the second before the late dry spell doomed the Wildcats.
WSU is now tied with Idaho for second place, giving up the tiebreaker to the Vandals, and is one game ahead of Eastern Washington for third.
The Wildcats finish the regular season with a road trip to Montana (21-7, 14-2) and Montana State (13-16, 6-10).
WEBER STATE 105, IDAHO 88
Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman scored 23 points in a game that featured 71 free throws as the Weber State women (18-9, 10-6 Big Sky) took a road game at Idaho (15-12, 11-5).
The win pulls the Wildcats into a four-way tie for third place, and one game behind Idaho for second, with two games left in the regular season.
Briana Gray scored 20, Emily Drake and Dominique Williams each scored 16, and Larryn Brooks added 15 in the high-scoring affair.