A winding road brings Weber State men’s basketball to its final homestand of the 2019-20 season this weekend.
The Wildcats (11-16, 7-9 Big Sky) host Portland State at 7 p.m. Saturday before Idaho State comes to Ogden at 7 p.m. Monday, March 2, for senior night.
It’s been quite the experience to take in WSU’s conference games at the Dee Events Center this season, and any hopes to jump up the standings hinge on if the two final home contests are similar.
Weber State began that home conference slate with a nail-biting 1-3 mark. The three losses came by a combined four points: WSU rallied but fell short in a two-point loss to Eastern Washington, then dropped games to Northern Colorado and Montana State by one each after allowing last-second buckets.
And, after the EWU game brought injuries to Jerrick Harding and Kham Davis, the Wildcats survived without them by beating Idaho by one after losing a lead and seeing the Vandals miss two final looks.
Since that 1-3 start, WSU has won four straight home games. That began with a thrilling overtime win over league-leading Montana in which Harding scored 32 points. Then, Harding exploded for a new Dee Events Center record with 44 points in a win over Sacramento State that also saw the senior guard become the program’s all-time leader in career scoring.
The Wildcats followed those with near wire-to-wire wins over Northern Arizona (76-70) and Southern Utah (82-71).
Here’s more on the final home matchups as the Wildcats aim to finish with home records of 7-3 in conference play and 10-4 overall.
Portland State has developed into a good offensive team this season by finally coupling above-average 3-point shooting with its crash-the-boards focus. The Vikings are now 9-8 in the Big Sky and among the five-team pack angling for fourth or fifth place and a coveted first-round bye in the upcoming Big Sky Tournament, so a WSU win Saturday would keep the pack tight and keep Weber in that race.
The Vikings improved to 5-11 on the road, including 3-6 in conference play, by taking care of Idaho State 89-76 on Thursday. Their high-pressure style hasn’t consistently traveled outside Viking Pavilion but one of those road wins was a 12-point win at Northern Colorado. The Bears are now tied for first place with Montana and Eastern Washington after blasting Idaho on Thursday while Montana lost at Northern Arizona.
Holland Woods continues to be the player to watch for PSU, averaging 17.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. Santa Clara graduate transfer Matt Hauser did not play in PSU’s previous matchup with Weber but has since returned from injury and recently shot 5 of 7 from the 3-point line against Eastern Washington and 6 of 10 against Idaho.
Idaho State picked up a win at Air Force early in the season and began Big Sky play 3-2. But on Jan. 16, Weber State sured up its rebounding in the second half, forced overtime and beat Idaho State 76-68 in Pocatello.
That began what is now a 12-game losing streak after Portland State won at ISU on Thursday night. One of few advantages the Bengals might enjoy Monday is facing the relatively rest-dependent Wildcats after taking Saturday off while WSU will battle Portland State that day.
Two weeks ago, associate head coach Jared Phay left the team. He and ISU “mutually agreed” to part ways after “coaching differences” between Phay and first-year head coach Ryan Looney, according to the Idaho State Journal.
Tarik Cool leads ISU in scoring at 13 points per game.
WSU seniors Jerrick Harding, Cody John and Brenden Morris will be honored before the game.