Weber State facing 3 must-win games on the road

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 14 2012 11:00 p.m. MST

Jordan Richardson (right) of the Weber State Wildcats shoots over the defense of Michael Harthun 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.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Three for the road.

That's the task which lies ahead for the Weber State men's basketball team, which must play its final three Big Sky Conference regular-season games on the road — and likely needs to sweep all three of them to assure the Wildcats of hosting the league's postseason championship tournament in March.

WSU enters the week deadlocked for the league lead with the University of Montana, which will play its final three conference games at home — including a showdown with the Wildcats in their regular-season finale on Feb. 28 at Missoula, Mont.

But before they start worrying about that, the Wildcats must get past the "other" Montana team, Montana State, tonight at Bozeman, Mont.

Although the Bobcats have lost five straight this season, including a 63-49 setback to the Wildcats in Ogden, and have been beaten by Weber State in eight of their last 11 meetings, they still pose a difficult challenge for the Wildcats on their home court.

"They're always good up there," WSU coach Randy Rahe said of MSU, which opened Big Sky play with a strong 6-2 start before losing five straight, including two overtime losses. "They're a very talented team, a very athletic team, and their backs are against the wall up there — they need a win — so we're walking into a hornets nest and it's going to be difficult.

"But we talk about it around here all the time. We love those kinds of challenges. We love to embrace 'em, the harder it is, hey, the more you find what you're made of. And let's go see what we're made of. We'll take it one game at a time and see where it all ends up."

Rahe admitted that he and his coaching staff have been doing some scoreboard watching when it comes to Montana and the rest of the Big Sky race.

"If you worry about what the other teams are doing, Montana or whoever it is, it just zaps your energy," he said. "And we need a lot of energy right now.

"They've got obviously a really good schedule the rest of the way and we've got the toughest one in the conference. That's just what it is. So we're gonna go embrace it and we're gonna take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and see if we can get some good done out there.

"It's going to be tough, three tough places to play obviously — Montana State, Northern Colorado and Montana," he said of the Wildcats' remaining conference road games. "But heck, why not, let's go take a swing at it and see what happens. That's our mindset — go play hard and see if we can get anything done out there. These kids will try hard."

email: rhollis@desnews.com

Wildcats on the air

Weber State (20-4, 12-1 Big Sky) at Montana State (11-13, 6-7)

Today, 7 p.m. MT

Worthington Arena, Bozeman, Mont.

TV: None Radio: 1280 AM

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