Saturday , January 20, 2018 - 10:53 PM
Senior Ryan Richardson and freshman Ricky Nelson led the way with 17 points each in a game that required Weber State (12-7, 5-2 Big Sky) to deal with 40 minutes of high-pressure defense from the Vikings (13-7, 3-4).
“We just kept battling the whole time,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “That team’s a good team ... The style of play is so different from anybody else who plays in the Big Sky. Forty minutes of press and 40 minutes of craziness. I thought our guys handled it really well.”
Weber State led by as much as 12 in the second half, but the contest came down to the wire when a put-back from PSU’s Ryan Edwards cut the Wildcat lead to 81-79 with 48 seconds to play.
The Vikings got the stop they needed on defense and had 21 seconds to tie or take the lead. Holland Woods’ driving shot was bothered by the outstretched hands of Brekkott Chapman, and Deontae North’s tip-in was too short.
Nelson snatched the rebound and was promptly fouled. He made one of two free throws for an 82-79 lead with seven seconds left to keep PSU’s hopes alive.
Nelson had other plans. He fouled Woods as he came across mid-court with four seconds left, preventing a 3-point attempt.
Woods missed both free throws and Chapman was fouled in a scramble for the rebound. The lefty from Roy made both freebies to ice the game and claim the win.
“We’ve been playing hard every game the last few games,” Richardson said. “But we haven’t come out with the energy, the intensity, playing for each other and getting excited, and tonight I felt like we did that. I think that was a huge key for us in that game.”
Portland State head coach Barret Peery said the game featured high-level competition.
“Give Weber a lot of credit. They made some big, big shots,” Peery said. “We had some good looks and some good opportunities that didn't fall for us ... but I thought it was a really hard-fought game. I think that's two pretty good teams that slugged it out for quite a while.”
The Wildcats handled the Vikings’ full-court pressure with a good deal of composure. While WSU’s 13 turnovers seems like a high total, it’s the lowest number Portland State has forced this season.
PSU’s fast pace did do some good, leading Weber to hurry its offense and hit only 4 of 13 from deep in the first half.
The Wildcats made adjustments and shot 7 of 10 from beyond the arc in the second half, including 3 of 3 from Michal Kozak.
“We had to get adjusted to their athleticism,” Rahe said. “We had to get adjusted to the pace of play because it was so sped up. We hadn’t played a game all year where a team’s pressing for 40 minutes. In the second half, we were more comfortable with the pace of play.”
Jerrick Harding was guarded heavily all night and held to 14 points. Kozak finished with 11 points and three rebounds.
Chapman and Zach Braxton each scored 10 points while Chapman picked up the double-double with 11 boards. Braxton recorded three blocks and Chapman added two.
“I think it helped our team to go out there and go toe to toe with them and match them blow for blow,” Rahe said. “I think it helped our team grow up a little bit.”
The Wildcats will now head on the road to Pocatello on Jan. 27 looking to avenge their conference-opening loss to Idaho State.
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at email@example.com, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.
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