For much of Thursday’s game, Weber State men’s basketball and Sacramento State played as much of a rock fight as they did basketball.
The Hornets paraded to the free-throw line for some stretches, the teams traded long runs of droughts followed by runs of consecutive buckets, and the Wildcats shot poorly from the 3-point line.
But Weber State held Sacramento State to 10 points between the 10-minute mark and the one-minute mark down the stretch and pulled away for an 82-73 victory at the Hornets Nest in Sacramento, California.
“These guys are a unique team in how they play offense, they kind of invert their offense,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “We finally found a recipe and changed up our look, I thought it really helped us the last 10 minutes.
“It’s always a grind when you play (Brian Katz’s) teams ... it’s one of the harder places to play in our league.”
With teams trading a few ties and lead changes for the first 10 minutes of the second half, the game turned when Seikou Sisoho Jawara stripped a Sac State shooter going up to beat the shot clock. Zahir Porter grabbed the loose ball, raced the other way and dished back to Sisoho Jawara for a three-point play to put Weber up 58-57 with 9:54 left.
Weber State (15-5, 10-3 Big Sky) led the rest of the way.
In one stretch, Porter rebounded his own missed 3 and scored at the rim, Dontay Bassett scored in the post and Isiah Brown converted a driving layup to put WSU up 72-62 with 2:37 left — meanwhile with Dillon Jones eating up rebounds as the Wildcats started to get stops.
Sisoho Jawara led WSU with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists. Brown scored 16 points, and Jones posted his first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
“He’s got such a good nose for the ball and he’s so tough,” Rahe said about Jones. “I thought he guarded (Bryce) Fowler, did a really good job on him in the second half.”
Michal Kozak added 12 points and five rebounds, putting in some key buckets in the paint, and KJ Cunningham was 2 of 2 from deep for six points. Cody Carlson hit WSU’s only other 3-pointer.
“I thought Mike Kozak did a really good job for us inside tonight,” Rahe said. “I’m really comfortable with (Cunningham) shooting from 3 right now. He’s not scared ... KJ is KJ, he gives us great energy, guards his butt off every time and when he makes 3s it’s a big bonus.”
Despite shooting 3 of 13 from deep, WSU still shot 35 of 59 (59.3%) and racked up 54 points in the paint. Sac State stayed in touch early with a quick spate of 3s, and outshot WSU 24-10 in free-throw attempts for the game.
But the Hornets usual leading scorer, Ethan Esposito, missed four straight free throws in the decisive second-half stretch, shot only 3 of 12 for 10 points, and Sac State finished 6 of 20 from deep and 17 of 24 from the foul line.
Fowler led Sac State (7-9, 4-7) with 19 points. Zach Chappell and Christian Terrell joined Esposito with 10 points apiece.
The two teams play again at noon MST Saturday.
WSU WOMEN GET 1ST WIN
Weber State women’s basketball team won the second half 48-30 to tally its first win of the season, defeating Sacramento State 79-73 on Thursday at the Dee Events Center.
Ashley Thoms hit a 3-pointer to give WSU a 73-71 lead with 1:43 left, then made all four of her free throws in the final 1:12 to help bring home the victory.
Daryn Hickok led Weber State (1-17, 1-14 Big Sky) with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, adding seven rebounds. Thoms scored 14 and Kori Pentzer, Jadyn Matthews and Emma Torbert each scored 11 points. WSU shot 25 of 27 from the foul line.
Jordan Olivares scored 22 points to lead Sacramento State (2-18, 2-15).