OGDEN — A nightmare scenario unfolded for Weber State guard Franklin Session in the final seconds against Montana Tech.
Session kept finding ways to get to the free-throw line and, once there, kept misfiring on his free-throw attempts. He made only two of six free throws in final 31 seconds, with the Wildcats clinging to a slim lead.
"It was really scary," Session said. "I don't know what was happening. I usually make free throws, but it just wasn't my night."
Session redeemed those misses with some big defensive plays in the final minute. He helped keep the ball away from the Orediggers long enough for Weber State to escape with a 73-70 victory at the Dee Events Center on Wednesday night.
Session led the Wildcats (4-4) with a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds. Damian Lillard chipped in 13 points and six assists for Weber State.
The Wildcats needed to rally from an eight point second-half deficit to get their latest win. Montana Tech used hot shooting from the perimeter to take control early in the first half. The Orediggers appeared headed for a shocking upset when a 3-pointer from Dean Colbray — who scored a game-high 25 points — gave them a 54-46 lead with 14:06 left in the second half.
Weber State rallied and finally took a 65-61 lead after on Nick Hansen's 3-pointer with 4:52 remaining. But its NAIA foe was not done with the scare tactics. The Orediggers went back ahead once more when Colbray converted a layup and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to make it 70-69 with 2:08 left.
Lillard finally put the Wildcats ahead for good when he hit two free throws a few seconds later.
Even though it won, Weber State came away feeling like it had not given an effort worthy of finishing in the victory column.
"They outplayed us in every aspect of the game, and it starts with mental preparation," Wildcats forward Kyle Bullinger said. "They were mentally much more ready to play than we were. Their effort showed it."
Weber State coach Randy Rahe gave Montana Tech credit for delivering an inspired effort. He said the Orediggers outworked his team on both offense and defense, and it left plenty for him to think about going into Saturday's game against SUU.
Still, Rahe is pleased the Wildcats can work on things coming off a victory instead of a loss.
"Some people say you learn a lot from losing, but I'd rather win and learn, and that's what we're going to do," Rahe said.
A series of wild runs defined the first half. Weber State ripped off the game's first nine points — capped by a pair of free throws from Steve Panos — to seize control early. Montana Tech rallied and took its first lead on a jumper from Eric Schippers that made it 15-14 with 13:07 left in the half.
Montana Tech then ripped off a 15-3 run to sprint away from the Wildcats for a while.