Weber State basketball: Wildcats want to finish season perfect at home

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Freshman Mike Brown (left) of the Weber State Wildcats celebrates with teammate Gelaun Wheelwright after shooting the final three point shot at the buzzer over Martin Whitmore (not pictured) of Portland State during the second half of play at the Dee Events Center in Ogden Thursday, February 5, 2012. Weber State defeated Portland State, 92-79. Brown scored the three in the only 11.5 seconds he was in the game.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

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OGDEN — Twenty victories has always been the hallmark of a successful college basketball season.

And tonight, Weber State will go after win No. 20 when the Wildcats play host to Eastern Washington University in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball matchup that tips off at 7:35 p.m. in the Dee Events Center. Tonight's contest has a slightly later-than-usual tipoff time to accommodate a doubleheader with the WSU women's team, which hosts Northern Arizona at 5 p.m.

A victory would give the Weber State men's program its 25th season with 20 or more wins in 50 years of Division I basketball.

With Thursday's road win over NAU, the Wildcats remained deadlocked with Montana for the top spot in the Big Sky at 11-1, and the Wildcats and Grizzlies have already clinched the top two spots in the conference race.

But tonight marks Weber State's final conference home game of the season, as the Wildcats finish their regular-season league play with three straight games on the road — including their season-ending showdown against the Grizzlies on Feb. 28 at Missoula, Mont., which will likely decide which school will host the Big Sky postseason championship tournament March 6-7.

While Weber State is 13-0 at home thus far this season, the schedule makers did the WIldcats no favors this week, since WSU played a road game at Northern Arizona on Thursday, then had to return home. Eastern Washington, meanwhile, did not play Thursday and has had an entire week to? prepare for the Wildcats, who beat the Eagles 76-69 earlier this season at Cheney, Wash.

"It will be difficult to come home for a quick turnaround after a road game, so we have to be ready to play," said WSU coach Randy Rahe. "Eastern Washington is one of the most athletic teams in the league. They are as talented as any team in the league and will be a tough test for us."

The Eagles are the country's seventh-best team in 3-pointers per game — Weber State ranks third nationally in that category — but they are the league's worst shooting team overall at 40.7 percent and also rank among the Big Sky's worst rebounding teams.

EWU's leading scorer is Colin Chiverton, who is third in the Big Sky with 16.2 points per game, while Cliff Ederaine ranks second in the Big Sky in rebounding with 8.2 per game.

Weber State junior guard Damian Lillard, the nation's leading scorer with 25.2 points per game, scored 30 against the Eagles earlier this season, with Scott Bamforth adding 19 and Kyle Tresnak 132 more for the 'Cats.

The Wildcats lead the series between the two schools 40-20, including a 26-4 advantage in Ogden, and have won seven of the last eight games in the series. But Eastern Washington was the last team to beat the Wildcats in Ogden, grabbing a 75-59 win here last March 2.

Email: rhollis@desnews.com

Wolverines on the air

Utah Valley (16-10, 6-0)

at Chicago State (3-12, 1-5)

Saturday, February 11th, 1:05 p.m.

Jones Convocation Center

Radio: 960 AMIUPUI (20-16, 4-10)

T-birds on the air

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at Southern Utah (13-12, 8-7)

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E. Washington (11-13, 5-6)

at Weber State (19-4, 11-1)

Saturday, February 11th, 7:35 p.m.

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