Weber State wrapped up a perfect Big Sky home season by looking to an unlikely source.
Junior walk-on Marc Lawson scored all 15 of his points in the second half to lead the Wildcats to a dramatic come-from-behind 61-51 win over Portland State and lock WSU into the second seed in next week's Big Sky Tournament."I was feeling pretty good," Lawson said after he knocked down five of seven shots in the second half and nailed all four of his free throws to help Weber State erase an 11-point deficit. "(Andy) Jensen gave us some really good screens. It got me open and they started to drop."
WSU coach Ron Abegglen knew exactly who to credit for the win. "The only good thing I did was put Marc Lawson in the game," he said. "He's really turning into a fine shooter. He reads the defense better than any player I've ever coached."
Lawson's late-season emergence as a spark-plug off the bench has left the Wildcats as at least the second seed going into next week's Big Sky Tournament.
Weber State's slim hopes of hosting the Big Sky Tournament ended an hour after the game when NAU pulled out a 64-61 win at Cal-State Northridge - clinching the top seed.
This game, though, almost sent Weber into the postseason on a very sour note.
Portland State dominated the first half of the game as WSU's offense struggled, and its defense was virtually nonexistent.
"We didn't compete in the second half," Abegglen said. "We took some ugly shots, we whined to the officials. We were doing a lot of things we shouldn't have."
But thanks to Lawson - and a flurry of action late in the game - Weber State doubled up the Vikings to win going away.
With about 10 minutes to play, a wild melee near halfcourt for a loose ball provided what could have very easily cost Weber State the game.
Senior James Smith dove into a pile of players struggling to gain possession of the ball. In an effort to keep the scrum from becoming an all-out brawl, referee Dick Ball put Smith in a headlock that would have made Latrell Sprewell proud and pulled him out of the pileup.
With the crowd of 4,789 in an uproar, the officials proceeded to call three fouls on Weber State players in the next minute with the Wildcats trailing 43-38.
Instead of collapsing after Eric Ketchum and Damien Baskerville each picked up a fourth foul with nine minutes to play, the Wildcats responded by holding the Vikings scoreless for the next four minutes and sprinting to a 11-0 run.
"With that little scrum, we showed that this is our house," Lawson said. "We didn't want to go out losers."
In addition to Lawson's effort, the Wildcats got 12 points from Alex Fisher and 11 from Ketchum. Baskerville and Jensen both finished with nine-point, nine-rebound games.
WILDCAT NOTES: Assuming the Wildcats beat Sacramento State Saturday, Wednesday's win ensures Abegglen's 35th consecutive winning season as a coach. He's been at WSU seven years and has yet to have a losing record . . . The crowd of 4,789 wrapped up Weber State's third straight Big Sky attendance title . . . Former WSU guard and Utah Jazz player Ruben Nembhard was at the Dee Events Center to watch the game. He's been playing professionally in Greece.