Utah, Weber State basketball: Wildcats snap long losing streak against Utes
Chen Wang, Deseret News
OGDEN — You figure when your center smashes a school record with 10 blocked shots, when your senior captain gets the first double-double of his career and when your team shoots 50 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line, you ought to have a pretty good chance of winning.
Not if you're the Utah basketball team, which didn't have enough to beat a scrappy Weber State team that came back from a 14-point first-half deficit to win 83-76 Wednesday night at the Dee Events Center.
For the Wildcats, it marked their first win over the Utes in nine years and first at home since 1999. It was their second win of the season in six starts after playing several teams close.
"You know they earned this one," said Weber State Randy Rahe, a former Ute assistant, who notched his first win over Utah. "I told them we deserved this one after everything we've been through. We've got a bunch of kids who play really, really hard and have some toughness. They kept fighting and this was a good game for it to turn around."
The star of the game was sophomore guard Damian Lillard, who scored a career-high 28 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Steve Panos, who played for Highland High School and grew up as a Ute fan, added 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Utes were led by Kim Tillie, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Carlon Brown added 16 and Luka Drca 12.
Then there was Ute sophomore David Foster, who blocked 10 shots to break the Ute record of seven set by Luke Nevill a year ago. Coach Jim Boylen couldn't say enough about his center, who returned from an LDS mission just seven months ago.
"David was awesome — he's going to be a great player," Boylen said.
The problem was, the Utes didn't take advantage of all the blocks, allowing Weber to get the loose balls and second chances at baskets.
"We did not win the loose ball game and did not win the transition game," said Boylen. "We've got to get the loose ball. If we pick up two of those loose balls, we win the game. But we didn't do it."
The Utes started off on fire, hitting three quick 3-pointers to go up 9-0, and with 7:32 left, they led 28-14.
"I was really concerned because they're the kind of team that can put the pedal to the metal and bury you," said Rahe.
But the Wildcats kept chipping away and pulled within three at halftime on a desperation 3-pointer by Darin Mahoney that banked in at the buzzer. The Wildcats took their first lead at 53-51, and from there the lead changed hands four times before the Utes seemed to take control at 69-65 with 4:58 left.
However, the next time down, Drca took a quick 3-pointer and Chris Hines was blocked underneath, then Tillie missed, Brown was called with an offensive foul and Drca missed a layup. And all of a sudden, it was 74-69 for Weber after Lillard sank his only 3-pointer of the night with 2:13 left.
The Utes could never get closer than three the rest of the way, as the Wildcats salted it away from the foul line, making seven of their last eight.
"We need to be tougher and get the loose balls," said Tillie. "They made some good shots at the end and we weren't very good on defense and that was the difference. We weren't aggressive enough defensively and that's something we have to work on."
Utah (3-4) plays Idaho State at home Saturday, while Weber State (2-4) goes on the road to face Sacramento State Saturday.
GAME NOTES: The Wildcats outrebounded the taller Utes 35-30 and only had five turnovers, with none in the second half. ... The Utes were playing without freshman center Jason Washburn, who stayed home because of effects of a concussion he suffered Saturday night during the pregame layup line of all things. ... The Wildcats hadn't beaten Utah since a 79-77 victory in 2000 and hadn't won in Ogden since an 84-71 victory in 1999. ... Jace Tavita didn't play for the first time this year, as the Utes went with Hines as the backup point guard.
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