Weber State men's basketball took the floor Sunday with a chance to sweep the competition at the inaugural Junkanoo Jam in Bimini, Bahamas, finishing the event by taking on Cal State Bakersfield.
The Wildcats were flat for long stretches of the contest. WSU only scored 10 points in the game's first 13 minutes, ripped off a huge run, then only scored 12 points in the game's final 12 minutes.
A series of sloppy Weber State plays in crunch time set up a finish that saw senior Damiyne Durham take a dribble hand-off, rise up and knock down a 3-pointer to give Bakersfield a 68-67 lead with five seconds left.
There would be no heroism like that from Israel Barnes on Friday night. Jerrick Harding missed a 20-foot leaner as time expired and, to make matters worse, came up limping and had to be helped out of the gym by teammates.
"He turned it pretty good, that's all I know," head coach Randy Rahe said, presumably referring to an ankle injury. "That didn't look great right now so we'll have to see what happens."
Harding scored 22 points through the game's first 26 minutes but did not score again. The junior is averaging 26 points per game this season.
WSU turned the ball over 19 times and shot 18 of 29 from the free-throw line, undoing a 50 percent field-goal shooting night.
After falling behind 28-15 with 5:26 left in the first half, the Wildcats began chipping away and cut it to 33-30 at halftime.
Harding kept things going to start the second half by hitting a 3-pointer. Then, over the course of the next four minutes, WSU converted three old-fashioned three-point plays by scoring while fouled. Braxton had two, with one coming off an offensive rebound, and Harding had the other on a tough right-handed scoop shot.
That made it a 29-7 run and put Weber ahead 44-35.
Cody John got in on the action, hitting a 3 and then scoring consecutive layups to put Weber up 55-43 with 12 minutes left, completing a 40-15 run.
But the sloppy play from the game's beginning returned. That came to a head after Weber took a 67-65 lead with 2:13 left.
Braxton missed two free throws, John missed an open 3 and Donatas Kupsas threw a bad pass. With 35 seconds left, Weber broke a full-court press and Kupsas found himself with the ball at the free-throw line. With 20 seconds left on the shot clock, he pushed up a floater that missed, setting up Bakersfield's winning possession.
Braxton finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. John added 13 points, 11 coming in the second half. Brekkott Chapman had six points and fouled out in 13 minutes.
Weber State (3-2) has eight days off before hosting Benedictine University — an NAIA team from Mesa, Arizona — on Nov. 27.