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Perfect 'Cats in St. Mary's tourney

Published: Sunday, Nov. 27 2011 12:01 a.m. MST

Bullinger leads the Big Sky in rebounding with 11.3 per game and became the 23rd player in WSU hoops history to reach 500 career rebounds

Courtney Sargent, Deseret News

MORAGA, Calif. — The Weber State University men's basketball team, off to its best start in five seasons, puts its perfect 3-0 record on the line Sunday evening when the Wildcats go up against Jacksonville State in a first-round game of the St. Mary's Shamrock Office Solutions Classic at Moraga, Calif.

Tournament host St. Mary's takes on San Francisco State in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader prior to the Weber State-Jacksonville State matchup. The losers of Sunday's games will meet Monday at 6 p.m. MT, with the championship game between Sunday's winners scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m. Monday.

This marks the Wildcats' second straight trip to the West Coast. Last Saturday, they came away with an 80-72 victory over UC Irvine in their first road game of the young season. Junior guard Damian Lillard led the 'Cats with 27 points at Irvine, while Scott Bamforth added 18 and Kyle Bullinger had a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against the Anteaters.

Bamforth, who scored a career-high 28 points in the Wildcats win over Utah State earlier last week, was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for his performance. He made 9-of-12 shots from 3-point range last week, including 7-of-9 against Utah State.

Bullinger leads the Big Sky in rebounding with 11.3 per game and became the 23rd player in WSU hoops history to reach 500 career rebounds.

Lillard is approaching a career milestone of his own this weekend. He needs just 22 points to become the 10th-leading scorer in Weber State history. Lillard currently has 1,219 points in his career, 21 behind former WSU guard John Hamilton (2000-04), who currently holds down 10th place on the career list with 1,240 points.

The last time the Wildcats started a season 3-0 was 2006-07, Randy Rahe's first year as the Wildcats' head coach. The last time a Weber State team began a season better than 3-0 was way back in 1985-86, when they started 10-0 under Larry Farmer.

Jacksonville State (2-3), which lost to Northwestern State, 66-61 in overtime on Friday, is led by junior Tarvin Gaines, who is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.

St. Mary's, 2-1 after a loss at Denver University on Tuesday night, is one of only eight teams in the country to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons. BYU and Gonzaga, who like St. Mary's are members of the West Coast Conference, are also among the eight teams to have done so.

Email: rhollis@desnews.com

WILDCATS ON THE AIR

Weber State (3-0) vs. Jacksonville State (2-2)

Sunday, 7:30 p.m. MT

At Moraga, Calif.

TV: None Radio: 1280 AM

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