OGDEN — The Weber State men’s basketball program came into Saturday having lost 15 straight games to BYU. The last time the Wildcats won, Jermaine Boyette scored 37 in 2003.
The players knew it.
Jerrick Harding scored 30 points before fouling out near the end of a foul-filled final three minutes, Cody John added 22 points and WSU snapped the streak with a 113-103 win over the Cougars at the Dee Events Center.
“It was good to end that drought. It was a fun game to play,” Harding said. “Us losing to them last year was big motivation. We were close and I feel like we used that as fire coming into this game. It helped us.”
Head coach Randy Rahe, with his first career win over BYU, said he felt a good game coming from the last few practices.
“Sometimes you play in these games and you worry the guys are going to be too excited ... and it affects your poise,” he said. “I felt a quiet confidence in practice this week. We’re getting closer to playing the way we want to play and I think the guys felt it, too.
“And I think it helps our guys to see the football team roll like that, they want to get out there and do the same thing,” Rahe said, referencing WSU’s 48-23 playoff win earlier in the day.
The first half was nearly as even as a game could be, featuring 15 lead changes and eight ties before John put back his own miss at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 47-46 lead at the break.
There was no such back-and-forth in the second half, despite Yoeli Childs and Jahshire Hardnett racing to 31 and 24 points each for BYU.
That’s because the Cougars (5-4) were trading 2s for 3s at given stretches.
With Weber (5-2) leading 68-60 and 12:14 left, Harding hit a 3-pointer. That was countered by a Childs layup. Caleb Nero hit a 3 for Weber, countered by a Childs short jumper. A Hardnett 2 was answered by a 3-pointer from Brekkott Chapman.
Then a stop and two Ricky Doc Nelson free throws later, Weber suddenly led by 15 with 9:16 left. The Cougars couldn’t claw out of the hole.
BYU sent Weber State to the foul line 19 times in the final 2:40. The Wildcats made 13 of those shots and finished with 66 points in the second half.
Michal Kozak scored 14 points and blocked three shots for Weber State. Chapman added 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Zach Braxton totaled 10 points and 11 rebounds and Nero added 12 points.
“It’s a good confidence-builder,” Rahe said. “It’s something I can tell the team ‘this is what we look like, this is who we are.’ We’ve got to do some things defensively to get better, which we will ... but this is who we are now, so anything less than that, you’re not trying hard enough.”
BYU had three players with eight points and three more with seven, but only Childs and Hardnett were in double figures. BYU shot 5 of 14 from deep while Weber was 11 of 25.
Weber State next plays Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Fresno State.
The afternoon football game drew 8,838 fans to Stewart Stadium and the basketball game 9,731 to the Dee Events Center.
“We don’t win the game without that crowd yelling, screaming and urging our guys on,” Rahe said. “We’ve got outstanding fans. That was a special day for Weber State athletics, the city of Ogden and Weber State University.”