We're playing with a lot more rhythm now," Rahe said. "I think everybody's getting more comfortable. You can see it, guys are thinking quite as much as they were a couple of games ago.
OGDEN — There was a better chance of seeing Halley's Comet fly over the Dee Events Center on Monday morning than there was of seeing these low-flying Comets from North Dakota get a win inside of it that night.
Weber State, still smarting from a 20-point loss at the University of California last weekend, took out its frustrations on Mayville State, a spunky but obviously overmatched Comets squad from a little NAIA Division II school in Mayville, N.D., in a 106-57 men's basketball laugher Monday night.
Junior guard Damian Lillard scored 28 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in just 24 minutes for the Wildcats (7-3), while sophomore guard Jordan Richardson — who had hit seven 3-pointers all season long (7-of-22) coming into Monday's matchup — drilled 7-of-8 from beyond the arc on his way to a career-high 23 points.
"I've been struggling with my jump shot this whole season, but my shot's finally started coming back," Richardson said. "... I've been shooting the ball kinda OK in practice, and I've been shooting the ball well on my own, so I kind of had a little sense that I was going to shoot like this. But I didn't know I was going to have this good of a shooting game."
Junior guard Scott Bamforth scored 19 more points and freshman center James Hajek had a career-best 13 points to go along with eight rebounds as Weber State warmed up for Thursday's instate showdown against the University of Utah with a 49-point blowout.
"This whole week, we've just been wanting to get better," said Lillard, who moved into the seventh spot on WSU's all-time scoring list and is the nation's leading scorer with an average of 25.7 points per game. "... We just wanted to find ways to get better, whether it was playing harder for 40 minutes or coming up with stops, or just working on executing our offense and sharing the ball, and just maintaining that focus that we would have against Cal or BYU or Utah — just maturing throughout the season, and I think we did well.
"I think, collectively, what we can take out of this game is everybody's confidence is up and we're in a rhythm and everything is flowing right now, and it's good that we can take that into the game against Utah."
Weber State used first-half scoring runs of 10-0, 8-0 and 13-0 to take a 21-point halftime lead, 47-26. With Lillard, Richardson and Bamforth taking turns lighting the scoreboard early in the second half — including a crowd-pleasing putback dunk by Lillard — the Wildcats went on a 29-8 spree which included a 14-0 run to open up a 42-point spread at 76-34.
Then after Mayville State managed to get back within 30, the Wildcats staged a 21-2 spurt to make the margin as many as 51 points before the Comets cut it to 49 in the closing seconds.
Gus Kueber had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Mayville State (7-7), which counted this game as an exhibition on its schedule, while Eric Shulstad added 14 points and Matt Baudin had 11 for the cold-shooting Comets, who shot just 33 percent from the field and got out-rebounded 40-26.
WSU coach Randy Rahe, whose team is missing two front-line starters with injuries and had starting center Kyle Tresnak nursing a sore back, felt like Monday's lopsided win was just what the Wildcats needed in preparation for what could be the Utes' last appearance in the Dee Center.
"When you play games like this, the things you worry about as a coach are your team getting really slopping, getting really out of character, maybe not taking it as seriously as you want," he said. "I challenged our guys today and told them we needed to play with high energy and high focus and not get into the score, just play the game and play really good basketball on both ends.
"We got some good things out of this game. I thought we got better tonight because of the way we played the game. We played it the right way; we tried really hard, we didn't get out of character, we shared the ball and we were aggressive and executed our stuff, and I thought that was really important for us to do that.
"We're playing with a lot more rhythm now," Rahe said. "I think everybody's getting more comfortable. You can see it, guys are thinking quite as much as they were a couple of games ago. ... We're getting in a better rhythm, especially offensively, and I really feel like we're getting better. I think we're heading in the right direction."