LOGAN — Weber State was right there, deadlocked with Utah State at 53-all with just five minutes to go in an intense men's basketball game between the two instate rivals.
The Wildcats appeared poised to snap an eight-game losing streak in the Smith Spectrum, where the people wearing Purple haven't won since way back in 1993.
And then it happened.
Call in "Spectrum Magic" if you want — WSU head coach Randy Rahe preferred to simply call it lousy free-throw shooting by his team — but the Aggies outscored the Wildcats 12-2 over the final five minutes to turn this back-and-forth, deadlocked duel into a 10-point victory, 65-55, in front of 8,415 fans who had yet one more reason to be grateful on this Thanksgiving weekend.
After all, the Aggies made 8-of-10 free throws during the last 4:11 to maintain their homecourt mastery over the Weebs, who went just 2-of-8 from the foul line over the last 21/2 minutes to see their hopes fade down the stretch. In all, Utah State made 22-of-32 free throws, while WSU was just 16-of-29.
"I believe we missed 13 free throws, but we fouled 'em too much and all the credit goes out to them," said junior forward Davion Berry, who led the Wildcats with 11 points but was just 5-of-14 from the field, including 0-of-6 from 3-point range, and 1-of-5 from the line. "... That's the type of game you've just got to grind it out and execute down the stretch. We didn't execute down the stretch; they did, they made free throws and we missed free throws.
"At practice, Coach Rahe actually played some very loud music so we could get used to (the always raucous Spectrum crowd), and it didn't affect us.
"It was a great atmosphere for a basketball player, and we embraced it," Berry said of his first instate hoops experience. "It was kinda fun, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to turn out, so it ended bad and it's not fun now."
Added Rahe: "I thought we put ourselves in a great position. I was really proud of our kids, our guys fought like crazy. And I thought they carried out the gameplan really, really well.
"We were going to try to pressure them, try to get physical with them — maybe too physical because we put them to the line too many times. Our guys did exactly what we wanted them to do. With five minutes to go, it's a tie game and we were right there."
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