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Weber State basketball: Pair of Wildcat underclassmen shine on big stage

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 4:15 a.m. MDT

Weber State's Joel Bolomboy goes over Arizona's Aaron Gordon while battling for a rebound during the first half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Weber State's Joel Bolomboy goes over Arizona's Aaron Gordon while battling for a rebound during the first half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SAN DIEGO — Weber State sophomore Joel Bolomboy made a name for himself this year in the Big Sky Conference with his defense, but his rebounding stole the show on Friday.

Against easily the most formidable frontcourt Weber State faced all year, Bolomboy corralled 16 rebounds, including seven offensive, as the Wildcats outrebounded top seed Arizona 32-31. It was only the third time this season Arizona has been outrebounded.

In fact, the 16 rebounds for Bolomboy were the most Arizona has allowed to a single player all season.

“Their power forward, I believe, will play in the NBA — unbelievable rebounder,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller.

Bolomboy’s rebounding ability helped Weber State enjoy a 16-11 edge in second-chance points, one of the reasons Arizona was never able to blow the game open.

Weber State's Joel Bolomboy pulls a rebound away from Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson during the second half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, AP) Weber State's Joel Bolomboy pulls a rebound away from Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson during the second half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, AP)

“They’re really good players. It was just tough battling in there. Rebounds didn’t come easy,” said Bolomboy.

The sophomore finished the season with 329 rebounds, and with two years remaining in his career he ranks 12th all time on Weber State’s rebounding list with 591.

FLASHES OF THE FUTURE: During a 60-second stretch of the second half, Weber State freshman Richaud Gittens gave fans a glimpse of what to expect in the coming years with the departure of Big Sky Player of the Year Davion Berry.

Between the 11:04 and 10:04 mark of the second half, Gittens scored seven straight points for the Wildcats to start their comeback bid.

Weber’s sixth man finished with 12 points and was the only Wildcat to shoot about 50 percent from the field — 4 of 6 for the game.

Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski, right, and Nick Johnson lose the rebound battle with Weber State's Joel Bolomboy during the first half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) (Gregory Bull, AP) Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski, right, and Nick Johnson lose the rebound battle with Weber State's Joel Bolomboy during the first half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) (Gregory Bull, AP)

“The first half I wasn’t really as aggressive as I need to be. I was talking to the guys and they were saying, 'Just be aggressive, be aggressive,'” said Gittens

ARIZONA BLOCK PARTY: Weber State knew all about Arizona’s size and athleticism heading into Friday’s game, and just as expected those characteristics caused major problems.

Arizona blocked 12 shots — five each for Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski — a new season high for the Wildcats. In fact, it’s the most team blocks since Miller took over the program five years ago.

“They’re big. They’re big bodies that can move and set screens,” said Weber center Kyle Tresnak. “Tarczewski was just huge and he could rover and step out of the paint.”

Weber State was aggressive attacking the paint regardless of that size in the first half, but when those shots ended in blocks more often than Arizona fouls, Weber State coach Randy Rahe said his players made the necessary adjustments.

Arizona's Nick Johnson gets a shot off under the arm of Weber State's Joel Bolomboy during the second half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, AP) Arizona's Nick Johnson gets a shot off under the arm of Weber State's Joel Bolomboy during the second half in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy) (Denis Poroy, AP)

“They’re athletic in there, they’re long, and I think once the guys figured out and got a sense of how long and athletic they were, we didn’t drive it in there so deep and we did a couple of other things to maybe not get the ball so deep to the rim,” said Rahe.

SENGLIN SHUT DOWN: Weber State freshman Jeremy Senglin was named the Big Sky Freshman of the Year after averaging 11.2 points this season, but Arizona completely neutralized his offensive contributions Friday.

Senglin only finished with three points on 1-of-2 shooting in 21 minutes.

“Jeremy’s a starter and a good player and they knew he could shoot the ball. That’s where he really makes a living, and they weren’t going to let him shoot,” said Rahe. “They totally got to him on 3-point shots. They basically said, 'You’re going to have to drive it, and we’re not going to let you drive around us.' They paid a lot of attention to him. You could see early on, on any catch, they closed out to him deep.”

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