BOISE, Idaho — Weber State men's basketball arrived in Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday evening for the Big Sky Conference tournament to get acclimated to the downtown complex housing the event — CenturyLink Arena and the adjoining hotel.
By the time Wednesday ended, the men's first round was complete and the women's tournament had its championship matchup.
"We’ve got a great setup, this is terrific," WSU men's head coach Randy Rahe said. "It’s a good place."
There's only so much acclimation to be had, however. With the busy tournament schedule for the men's and women's sides, each team gets a 30-minute shootaround the morning of the game, plus about 20 minutes of warmups before the game.
The talk for the Wildcats has been their place as a team with more to show on the floor.
"I told this team before we got here, if anybody should have something to prove, it’s our team. We’ve been up and down and all over the place, and we know the reasons why," Rahe said. "So it’s time to come together and get out there with something to prove. Everybody get on the same page with the right mindset and let’s play our best basketball."
Weber State faces Portland State at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the only quarterfinals matchup with both teams playing their first game. Sportsbooks have WSU favored by 3.5 points. Ken Pomeroy lists WSU as a four-point favorite at 65% probability.
All games except the men's championship game (ESPNU) stream live at WatchBigSky.com and on the Pluto TV app channel 231.
MEN'S FIRST ROUND
SACRAMENTO STATE 72, NORTHERN ARIZONA 60
No. 9 seed Sacramento State entered the Big Sky tournament averaging five made 3-pointers per game and was one of the least-proficient 3-point teams in the country. Guards Marcus Graves (6 of 8) and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (5 of 8) each matched their team's average on the way to a first-round win over No. 8 seed Northern Arizona.
Graves scored a game-high 27 points. The Hornets advance to play No. 1 seed Montana at noon Thursday.
SOUTHERN UTAH 94, IDAHO STATE 80
No. 7 seed Southern Utah missed its first three 3-pointers of the game, then shot 11 of 12 from there to sprint past No. 10 seed Idaho State.
Andre Adams led SUU with 23 points. Brandon Better scored 17 on 5-of-6 shooting from deep. SUU advances to play No. 2 seed Northern Colorado at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
MONTANA STATE 75, IDAHO 71
In the game expected to be the least competitive, a shorthanded and No. 11 seed Idaho had two possessions while down two in the final minute but couldn't take advantage and No. 6 seed Montana State survived for its first Big Sky tournament win since 2009.
Tyler Hall added to his all-time Big Sky-leading total with a game-high 23 points for MSU, adding 10 rebounds and four assists. MSU advances to play No. 3 seed Eastern Washington at 8 p.m. Thursday.
PORTLAND STATE 75, IDAHO 59
Taylor Pierce entered Wednesday with 138 3-pointers for the season, easily the most in Division I women's basketball, and needing four more to break the NCAA record for most 3s in a season.
The senior shot 0 of 12 from deep and regular-season champion Idaho was stunned by No. 4 seed Portland State.
Kylie Jimenez scored 23 points to lead PSU. Ashley Bolston added 17. Lizzy Klinker led Idaho with 21 points.
EASTERN WASHINGTON 59, NORTHERN COLORADO 57
A day after Eastern Washington beat Idaho State in overtime the No. 6 seed kept its unlikely march to the title game thanks to freshman Jessi McDowell-White in a thrilling Wednesday nightcap.
The freshman was inbounding the ball under her own basket with five seconds left and EWU trailing by one. She threw the ball off the back Northern Colorado's Savannah Smith, scored a layup and was fouled, making her free throw and putting the Eagles into the Big Sky title game for the first time.
Smith led all scorers with 20. Violet Kapri Morrow led Eastern with 16 points. EWU plays Portland State for the women's title at 1 p.m. Friday.