OGDEN Weber State coach Randy Rahe had a simple message for his players before they faced Northern Colorado on Saturday night: Rebound.
Did they ever.
The Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to the Bears, routing them 70-54 in front of 3,509 fans at the Dee Events Center.
Rahe was referring to winning the statistical battle with the Bears when he talked about the importance of rebounding in Saturday's game, and his players came through for him. The Wildcats grabbed four more boards than Northern Colorado, one of the top rebounding teams in the Big Sky.
"I told the kids before the game if they get outrebounded, we're probably going to lose the game," Rahe said. "If we outrebound them, we're going to win the game. It sounds simple but it's true."
Rahe's rebounding message, however, seemed like it was about more than just stats. The Wildcats were intent on getting revenge on the Bears, who edged them by three points in the conference opener for both teams.
In that game, Weber State didn't attack the basket enough, and attempted just six foul shots. The Wildcats were outrebounded by six boards and shot just 35 percent in the defeat.
Weber State was much more aggressive in the rematch, drawing 25 fouls and shooting 27-for-33 from the free-throw line.
"We were just being aggressive," said Weber State guard Dezmon Harris, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and scored a game-high 21 points. "We were trying to get to the free-throw line, be aggressive and make the referees call it, which we didn't do the first game."
The Wildcats took charge of the game in the second half, and not coincidentally, that was when they controlled the glass. Weber State had a 23-16 rebounding advantage in the second half with several easy baskets in transition.
An 11-3 run fueled by 3-pointers from Kellen McCoy and Harris, along with a three-point play by Arturas Valeika, put the Wildcats in command.
"In the second half, the kids really took over on the rebounding," Rahe said. "And when we did that, we got some run outs, got our break going. When we get easy baskets we're pretty good."Valeika recorded a double-double (16 points, 14 rebounds) for the Wildcats, who remained in second place in the Big Sky with the win and improved to 7-3 in conference play and 12-10 overall.