OGDEN — Weber State’s Davion Berry hadn’t been himself offensively. The Big Sky Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-conference honoree was passing up looks he’d seized all year. Out of sync and searching for his shot, Berry was uncharacteristically 9-of-22 from the field spanning the last three games.
In the early minutes, trailing by one, Berry loaded up and buried a wingside 3-pointer.
“I just had to see the ball go in,” Berry explained. “When you’re not making shots — you have to see the ball go in. My first shot went in and I knew it was going to be a good game from then on.”
Shortly thereafter, Berry spotted 25 feet beyond on the opposite side as the offense trickled around. Berry gave a quick jab-step pump-fake combo — baited an aggressive defender off — and bottomed another trey from 25 feet out.
Weber State had its best player back.
Berry posted career highs in points (27) and assists (10) to propel the Wildcats to an 83-74 win over Oral Roberts Wednesday in the third round of the College Insider.com Tournament at the Dee Events Center.
“He’s been playing really well, he just hasn’t been scoring like he has,” WSU coach Randy Rahe said. “The other night against Air Force he was passing up wide-open shots. Tonight, when he got that first open look and it went in, the light went on. He just needed a little confidence boost.”
With 19 seconds remaining, leading 81-71, Berry stepped to the line and calmly knocked down two freebies following a technical foul. The two points gave him a career-high. The only problem is — Berry doesn’t shoot techs.
“Normally Scott shoots them and Scott and Dev were talking,” Rahe said. “[They] figured out he needs two points for a career high, so Scott said, ‘well you shoot them then.’ That tells you what type of teammate Bamforth is right? I called Scott over and said, ‘you’re not making me look very smart. You’re like the best free-throw shooter in the country and I have someone else shooting.’ But it was great for them to do that.”
WSU (29-6) will play at Northern Iowa in the semifinals Saturday. The winner will then host the CIT championship on April 2.
Kyle Tresnak added 19 points and eight rebounds. Scott Bamforth tallied 18 points, five rebounds and became the single-season leader in WSU history in made 3-pointers with another three (95) — boosting his CIT Tournament tally to 15.
Similar to the first meeting, Oral Roberts (20-15) tested Weber State’s worth behind its three-talon attack of Shawn Glover, Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles. The three combined for 56 points.
But stopping ORU’s Steven Roundtree was the No. 1 priority. In the Golden Eagles’ two CIT wins, Roundtree had 38 points and 24 rebounds that correlated to ORU’s plus-17 margin on the glass.
The Wildcats limited the junior forward to five points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 19 minutes of action.
“That was the difference because this team had been dominant the last three games,” Rahe said. “To be honest with you, Roundtree got in foul trouble and limited his minutes. We also paid attention to him because we knew in his last two games he was a double-double machine.”
Weber State out-rebounded the Eagles, 39-29, to improve to 27-1 on the season after winning the battle on the glass. The Wildcats also topped ORU in assists (19-11), 3-pointers (8-5), free throws (25-13) points off turnovers (17-8) and points in the paint (30-26).
“They were motivated to play after we beat them on their senior night,” Rahe said of Oral Roberts. “They were excited to come here and play. They were playing hard.
The Eagles pulled within two, 61-59, with six minutes remaining behind two freebies by Niles.
With the game in question, Weber State set up in the half-court. With 5:59 left, Bamforth corralled an awkward snaking bounce pass, collected his balance, and whipped the nets with his third 3 — sparking a 12-2 run to shut the door on Oral Roberts' season.
“I thought Scott’s shot was huge to kind of jump-start us,” Rahe said. “Once he hit that 3, I thought our energy went up and we were able to get away from them a little bit.”