There were signs of improvement and long stretches — sometimes up to 30 minutes in a game — where Weber State outplayed their opponents at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida.
But the end result: three losses, and the Wildcats are still looking for their first Division-I win of the season.
Wednesday saw the Wildcats outplay Northeastern for the final 30 minutes but it wasn’t close to enough to make up for the first 10 minutes in a 79-69 loss to end the three-day tournament.
Northeastern (4-4) entered the tournament as the second-best 3-point shooting team in the country and they looked every bit the part Wednesday. The Huskies began the game going 8 of 9 from deep to take a 30-10 lead in the first 10 minutes, and finished at 15 of 26 from 3.
“You can’t give a really good team like that that many good looks, get them into a rhythm like that, and expect to come back from being down 20,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “If we’d gone in down by 10 or so, we’d have made it a ballgame in the second half.”
No matter how well Weber State played from there — forcing Northeastern into 19 turnovers, Cody John heating up to finish with 21 points — it simply wasn’t enough.
Jordan Roland entered the tournament as the nation’s leading scorer and totaled 24 points Wednesday, knocking down five 3-pointers and helped by a 9-of-10 mark at the free-throw line helped by consecutive possessions where he drew fouls on 3-point attempts by kicking his legs into Weber defenders.
Weber State (1-5) started its fifth starting lineup in six games with Judah Jordan making his first career start, along with John, Jerrick Harding, Kham Davis and Dima Zdor.
KJ Cunningham hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half to help Weber to a 47-29 deficit at halftime. He finished 3 of 3 from deep for nine points.
Despite Roland being credited for a 3-pointer with both feet inside the men’s 3-point line and WSU being issued a technical foul early in the second half, the Wildcats cut their deficit to 58-49 when John scored 11 points in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the frame and Harding added his only 3-pointer of the game.
That’s as close as Weber would get, cutting the deficit to 10 three more times but unable to get closer as Northeastern senior Bolden Brace peppered in more 3-pointers (he finished 4 of 6 from deep with 18 points) to help the Huskies maintain a lead.
Harding added 17 points with three assists and three steals for WSU and Davis scored 10 points.
Weber State returns to action Wednesday, Dec. 4, with a game at Utah Valley (4-4) still seeking that elusive first Division-I win.
So far this season, the Wildcats are causing a lot of turnovers and not giving up offensive rebounds, two marked improvements from last season. But opponents, when not turning the ball over, are shooting at a high clip and, except for Murray State, have been able to make Weber play from behind.
“This team made a lot of improvements down here. That’s why we came here. We’re wanting to win, we’re going to win, that’s going to come,” Rahe said. “We’ve just got to keep chopping wood, get better every day and results are going to come.
“We’re playing a hard, challenging schedule against good teams. We’re trying to make improvement while we’re playing those teams and that’s going to make us better.”