OGDEN — With just one second remaining in the first half, Weber State guard Scott Bamforth stepped up and sunk a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc.
The shot was a moment of excitement in a mostly boring 85-43 victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs (18-14) in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament at the Dee Events Center on Wednesday evening.
It was also an indicator of how the entire game was flowing for the Wildcats — they could not miss and made it look easy.
“We don’t want the season to end,” Bamforth said afterward. “It didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to. Obviously we wanted to be playing in the (NCAA tournament), but we’re in this tournament. You go with the hand you’re dealt.”
After being left out of both the NCAA and NIT tournaments, Weber State (27-6) went on a tear in the first round of the CIT to prove it belonged. The Wildcats opened the game with two 3-pointers en route to outscoring Caly Poly 18-8 across the first eight minutes of play.
“After a tough loss, it’s hard to come back and be in tune to it,” Bamforth said, referring to the Wildcats’ loss to Montana in the Big Sky championship over the weekend. “But at the end of the day, we like to play basketball, so we were going to be ready to play.”
Ten minutes into the game, freshman forward Joel Bolomboy split a trap and turned it into a reverse dunk to ignite a 16-4 run to close the half.
At the midpoint the Wildcats held a 27-point advantage, 45-18, had outrebounded the Mustangs 21-6, and had shot 67.9 percent from the floor.
Overall, Weber State shot 60 percent from the floor and was 10 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc in what was the Wildcats’ 27th victory — tying both the Weber State and Big Sky records.
“I think we got off to a hot start,” Bamforth said of the Wildcats’ early lead. “It’s probably tough for (Cal Poly); they probably came off a hard loss as well. When we got off to a good start, it kind of sucked the life out of them.”
Bamforth totaled a team-high 23 points with five boards and four assists in the win. Along with his first-half buzzer-beater, the senior shot 7 for 9 from long range, tying his single-game career high and reaching 242 career 3s. He now trails Damian Lillard by just five 3-pointers on the Weber State all-time leaders list.
Junior center Kyle Tresnak added 20 points, five boards, and two blocks, while Davion Berry and and Bolomboy finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We said we love to play, so let’s go play,” head coach Randy Rahe said after the game. “Don’t play just to be playing; play to learn, play to get better.”
Cal Poly was led by the play of Dylan Royer and Zach Gordon, who had eight points apiece in what was their school's first meeting with Weber State. The game was also the first postseason appearance for the Mustangs in their 19-year tenure as a Division-I program.
The CIT does not have a bracket format and matchups are restructured after each round. For that reason, the Wildcats did not know their next opponent after the game.
“It doesn’t matter who, where, when,” Rahe said. “We just want to play.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org