Weber State basketball Westcliff 01

Weber State forward Michal Kozak (11) rises to shoot at the rim against the challenge of Westcliff University's Nick Pete during a game Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

OGDEN — A slow first-half gave way to an energetic second for Weber State men’s basketball on Saturday night in an 86-46 defeat of Westcliff University at the Dee Events Center.

Senior guard Jerrick Harding scored 20 points in 17 minutes to lead all scorers.

Harding and Cody John hit 3-pointers during a 14-1 run in the first half to build a 25-11 lead on the way to a 36-26 halftime advantage.

Westcliff used an odd zone defense in the first half that appeared to make WSU think offensively.

“We weren’t active in the gaps, the energy just wasn’t there in the first half,” Harding said. “We came out and played a lot better in the second half.”

The Wildcats went on a 16-0 run early in the second half that rolled into a 27-4 rally after Kham Davis dunked in transition on a throw-ahead from Tim Fuller, making it 63-30 with 11 minutes left.

Harding totaled 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting one game after scoring 36 against Utah Valley. Big men Michal Kozak and Dima Zdor each scored 13 points, Davis scored 11 and John finished with 10.

Israel Barnes pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, Zdor had eight and Fuller grabbed seven. KJ Cunningham dished four assists.

Weber State has used a different starting lineup in nearly every game this season, due to both injury and feeling out a desired rotation — the latter of which has also been delayed due to injury.

Saturday’s starters were Judah Jordan, John, Harding, Davis and Kozak.

“We’re still trying to find our rotations,” Rahe said. “We’re getting close. The practice before we played Utah Valley was the first time in three weeks we had our whole team together for practice. We’ve had so many guys coming in and out ... we haven’t had any rhythm.

“We got behind because of injuries and didn’t get rhythm going early, so if we get this group staying together the next two weeks, we’ll get those rotations. We’re closer now.”

Next up for Weber State (3-5) is Utah (7-2), a team it hasn’t played in eight years. That game is part of the Beehive Classic at Vivint Smart Home Arena and is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tipoff Saturday, Dec. 14.

WHO IS WESTCLIFF?

Westcliff University is a private, for-profit school in Irvine, California, focused on programs in the fields of business and education. Its basketball team competes independently but is seeking NAIA membership. Its schedule is comprised of NAIA, NCCAA and Division II schools. It played two Division I opponents before Saturday, losing 88-60 to Sacramento State and 105-62 to Loyola Marymount.

The Warriors are the second of three non-Division I teams on Weber State’s regular-season schedule.

With all in-state games this year on the road due to the Beehive Classic, and a game with a Division I school that fell through before the season, Rahe said that while not desired, non-Division I games help his team get used to playing at home.

“I don’t think it’s fair to our guys to play the kind of schedule we have set up and then take a game like this or like West Coast Baptist and say we’re going to play another Division I game on the road instead,” Rahe said. “These games let you look at rotations, more guys, more minutes to see what you can do. They’re invaluable in a lot of ways ... you can’t bury your team.

“We try every year to get as many home games as we can but we can’t get anyone to come in here and play us. We have a very difficult time ... so we have to play games like this just so we can establish our home court and so our guys can play here.”

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

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