OGDEN — After a difficult and frustrating preseason, the Weber State Wildcats continued their strong start to the regular season with a dismantling 79-62 victory over Portland State Saturday night at the Dee Events Center.
“We feel like we have a rhythm right now, so we just got to keep it going,” senior guard Jordan Richardson said after the game. “We have two big games coming up against two good teams (Northern Colorado and North Dakota), so we’ll have a good week of practice and we’ll be ready.”
Both teams struggled early in the game, but thanks to Richardson, Weber State was able to push through and find some rhythm.
Richardson came off the bench and drilled his first three shots of the game, all of which came from beyond the arc, to spark a 13-0 Wildcat run and give the home team a 17-7 lead with 11:00 remaining in the half.
“I just come in and try to contribute to my team any way I can, whether it is playing defense or rebounding,” Richardson added. “I was fortunate enough tonight to make some shots tonight, finally, but I’m not really worried about it. I’m just coming in and trying to contribute.”
DaShaun Wiggins and Tim Douglas managed to keep Portland State (5-6, 0-2) within striking distance, but the strong bench play of Weber State (5-5, 2-0), led by redshirt freshman Kyndahl Hill (seven points, four boards), helped the Wildcats take a 36-27 lead at the break.
The Vikings really picked up their urgency on the defensive end in the final 20 minutes of play, as they forced the ‘Cats into two turnovers on their first two possessions of the second half to trim the lead to five with 16:56 remaining in the game.
WSU senior forward Davion Berry then went on a tear, pouring in nine points on the Wildcats’ next five possessions, to extend the purple and white’s lead back to 10.
Berry bounced back from his disappointing first-half performance (five points on 1-of-5 shooting) and finished the night with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the ‘Cats.
“I just stayed aggressive,” Berry said of his second-half performance. “The coaches and the players on my team just kept telling me to stay aggressive and to just keep playing my game, so I just wanted to come out and be aggressive.”
Weber State went on to open up a 52-40 lead off Richardson’s fourth 3-pointer before the Vikings made another run.
PSU’s Gary Winston then scored five of the next seven points for the Vikings to cut the lead back to five before Weber State called a timeout to regroup.
Weber State came out of the quick timeout and went on an 18-3 run over the next three minutes to take a commanding 68-49 lead with just 5:00 left in the contest.
“I was a little (upset) because we weren’t getting back in transition properly. They were driving by us, and on the other end, we were missing open shots,” said Weber State head coach Randy Rahe.
“So I just emphasized, ‘If you want to make a push, you’re going to have to get stops and rebounds. But down here, don’t even think twice about shooting open shots — just jump up and shoot the thing in with confidence.’ It helped a little bit, I guess.”
The Wildcats never slowed down from there as they opened up a 23-point lead to come away with the blowout victory.
Weber State will now hit the road to take on the Northern Colorado Bears at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. The game will be televised on Altitude TV.
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012. Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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