We're not used to giving up that high of a shooting percentage, but our kids really adjusted in the second half. —Weber State head coach Randy Rahe
OGDEN — Weber State pulled away in the second half, as visitor Northern Arizona's shooting cooled off, and the Wildcats cruised to their ninth straight victory, 81-67, Thursday night at the Dee Events Center.
Center Kyle Tresnak led the way with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, as he dominated inside for Weber State (15-3), which improved to 11-0 at home and 7-0 in Big Sky play.
"(Going inside) was working, so we kept going to it," Tresnak said.
"I've been getting as much work in as I can to be able to shoot over either shoulder. It's definitely been a lot of work, but it's been worth it."
Both teams shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, but the Wildcats took a 46-37 lead into the halftime locker room.
"We're not used to giving up that high of a shooting percentage," Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. "But our kids really adjusted in the second half."
Tighter defense by the Wildcats and a drop in the Lumberjacks' shooting helped Weber State build a cushion, growing to as high as 66-48. But Rahe was impressed with how the opponent kept fighting.
"Every game comes with its own issues, and tonight the issue was that we were playing a team with high energy and aggressiveness," he said. "They were very, very efficient offensively, and they stayed together and played hard."
Despite that never-give-up attitude, NAU (5-14, 1-6 Big Sky) never got any closer than 14 points in the closing minutes.
Damian Lillard finished with 18 points while attempting only 14 shots and going to the line a season-low two times, but contributed in several other ways. He dished out six assists and pulled down six rebounds, and also collected three steals.
"It's easy," Lillard said in talking about doing whatever his team needs. "I trust my teammates, and if I'm going to get so much attention, that's when I'm going to make (the other team) pay."
Rahe said it wasn't hard for Lillard to realize how to adjust to the defense Northern Arizona was showing him.
"They shrunk the floor in transition, and put a lot of guys in the color (the key), and he figured that out pretty quick," Rahe said.
Frank Otis, playing in his second game back from injury, put in 12 points. Otis acknowledged that the first-place Wildcats will be faced with a solid effort from anyone they play.
"We're not going to back down to anyone; right now we have a target on our back," he said.
Jordan Richardson contributed 10 points, while Darin Mahoney pulled down six rebounds.
Northern Arizona's Michael Dunn had 13 points, while teammates Ephraim Ekanem and Gabe Rogers had 12 apiece. Durrell Norman put in nine points and had eight rebounds.
Even on their current hot streak, Rahe feels like his team has plenty of room to improve.
"I like where we're at, but we can get better," he said. "We've played good basketball, but I don't think we've played our best basketball. By no means have we peaked as a team."