Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
OGDEN — Weber State turned the clocks back to honor its 50-year history as a Division-1 institution. So, it’s only fitting the Wildcats beat Portland State like it stole a five-cent piece of bubblegum from the neighborhood convenience store.
The Wildcats validated the 50-cent ticket prices meant to reflect the 1960s era with an 80-52 landslide against Portland State Thursday at the Dee Events Center. The Vikings, who have already been eliminated from postseason contention, apathetically motioned through the entire first half.
“It’s a tough situation to be in. You’ve got two games left and you know you can’t make the Big Sky Tournament,” Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. “I don’t know if they’ve packed it in or anything like that, but I know it takes a lot out of your team when you know there’s not a lot to play for.
“I thought they were much more ready to play in the second half,” Rahe continued. “Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes, but it’s just a tough situation for any team to be in. We wanted to get off to a good start and put a little bit of doubt in them if we could.”
Weber State built a 28-point lead, 41-13, at the break while limiting PSU to 6-of-33 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
“It’s kind of tough — you see what position they’re in,” WSU guard Scott Bamforth, who recorded his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, said. “They’re not playing for nothin’ really, and that’s a tough situation to be in. They’re good players, so that makes up for them not playing as hard as they normally would.”
Portland State entered as the second-worst team in defending the perimeter in the Big Sky; comparatively, the Wildcats continue to lead the nation in 3-point percentage.
On Thursday, the Vikings wished it was a 1960s game without the 3-point arc.
Weber State jumped out to a 12-0 lead with 16:45 in the first half after Jordan Richardson hit three treys — two from the wing and one in the corner — and Bamforth added another.
“They came out in that zone. We got the ball to the high post and we hit our first four 3s against that zone,” Rahe said. “They were wide open looks, we’ve got good shooters, and they knocked them down. It got them out of that zone pretty quickly.”
At one point, the ’Cats led 21-4 nearly halfway through the first half. The Vikings avoided the record-low of four first-half points set by Northern Illinois early this season when Renado Parker powered up a layup off an offensive rebound with 10:46 left in the first half.
“This time of the year, no matter what type of season a team might be having, it’s easy to let up a little bit and not bring that energy,” Rahe said. “It’s been a long season for everybody. I was really proud of the enthusiasm and the togetherness.”
The fate of the Big Sky Tournament location comes down to the final day of the regular season Saturday. In order for Weber State to host in Ogden, it has to beat Eastern Washington and needs Montana to fall against Northern Arizona at home. The Grizzlies haven’t lost a Big Sky contest in Missoula in three years. Montana State also needs to lose at home against Sacramento State along with Montana in order for WSU to host the tournament.
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