OGDEN — As seems to happen in many conference series matchups this season, Saturday afternoon’s men’s basketball rematch between Weber State and Northern Arizona slowed down from Thursday’s 92-59 WSU win.
Otherwise, it looked pretty similar.
Weber State used a late push to create halftime separation, then ran away from Northern Arizona in the second half en route to a 74-52 win Saturday at the Dee Events Center. The Wildcats did not trail at any point in 80 minutes played against the Lumberjacks.
Isiah Brown led Weber State (14-5, 9-3 Big Sky) with 15 points. Zahir Porter returned to action with 13 points, Seikou Sisoho Jawara added 11 points, and Dillon Jones and Cody Carlson each totaled 10 points and eight rebounds.
Carlson credited the success to ball movement.
“We’re just a good overall offensive team. Anyone can have their night,” Carlson said.
WSU head coach Randy Rahe said having five guys score double figures is what he envisioned with this team, something that happens increasingly more often as the Wildcats have now played games in six consecutive weekends.
“It makes you hard to guard,” Rahe said. “We’re understanding when that ball is moving side to side and everybody’s involved, everybody gets opportunities. Our go-to guy is the open guy.”
In addition to 10 points and eight rebounds, the freshman Jones, who got his second start, piled up five steals and dished three assists.
“He does everything. He gets all the boards, just an overall good player and really gritty, too,” Carlson said about Jones.
Rahe said Jones making winning plays is contagious and leads other players to play with confidence and energy.
NAU’s Isaiah Lewis scored inside to make it 25-23 late in the first half. That’s when Porter first got on the board, converting a tough drive and hitting a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to help WSU to a 32-23 halftime advantage.
Porter sat Thursday’s matchup due to a violation of team rules, and the usual starter came off the bench Saturday. He finished with an efficient 5-of-8 shooting night, including 3 of 5 from deep, adding three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes.
“I really liked his mindset today. He was very focused,” Rahe said. “He’s a really great teammate and that’s what bothered him the most is not being there for his teammates ... he didn’t force the issue early, got into some rhythm, played good defense and then he made some baskets and got going offensively.
“He’s a great kid. He had a bump in the road and had to pay for it, and now we’re moving on.”
Porter’s spurt began what became a 16-2 run that extended into the second half. Carlson hit a 3 and scored inside to cap the run for a 41-25 lead with 17:30 left.
Sisoho Jawara turned around on a post-up against his defender and knocked down a jumper, followed that with a 3-pointer and Brown converted a steal into a layup for a 67-42 lead at the 5:05 mark.
League-leading scorer Cam Shelton totaled just five points Saturday, taking only three field goal attempts. Luke Avdalovic led NAU (5-13, 4-8) with 16 points and was his team’s only double-digit scorer.
WSU senior big man Dontay Bassett did not play for the second straight game due to a non-COVID illness.
The series sweep helped the Wildcats keep pace at the top of the Big Sky standings.
Eastern Washington improved to 11-2 in conference play with a 90-76 win over an increasingly shorthanded Montana team in a game it led by as much as 30.
Southern Utah is 8-2 after a 20-point home win over Sacramento State, having played seven of 10 conference games at home. Idaho State is static at 7-3; the Bengals will not play WSU, SUU or Montana State (6-4), and finish the season against Montana and Eastern Washington in the next two weeks.
Weber State next hits the road for a pair at Sacramento State (7-8, 4-6) on Feb. 25 and 27.