I really liked the energy that they brought. We need that production from our bench if we’re going to have a chance to be competitive in our league. —Weber State head coach Randy Rahe, on his bench
OGDEN — The Weber State Wildcats forced St. Katherine College into five turnovers in the first four minutes and opened up the game on a 16-0 run to blow past the Firebirds, 107-36, Tuesday night at the Dee Events Center.
“We didn’t get out of character. When you play teams like this sometimes, you can get loose and you can get sloppy,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “I challenged our guys at halftime to play how we play. I thought our guys played more like how we need to play. We guarded hard; we rebounded hard; we shared the ball; and we executed our stuff better, so I was proud of that.”
The Wildcats’ swarming defense and high-octane offense forced the Firebirds (2-8) to miss their first 13 shots from the field. Weber State didn’t allow a basket until Kenan Haywood drilled a trey midway through the first half to finally put St. Katherine College up on the board.
The home team’s run-and-gun offense helped WSU completely dominate down low, as it scored 12 of its first 16 points in the paint and outscored St. Katherine College 24-4 in the paint just in the opening half.
“In a more general sense, the focus tonight was toughness, and points in the point are a great indicator of that,” true freshman Josh Fuller said.
In the first half, the one-two punch of seniors Kyle Tresnak (nine points, five rebounds) and Davion Berry (12 points, four assists) helped the purple and white take a commanding 43-15 lead at the break, while a total of eight different Wildcats (2-4) found the box score in the first 20 minutes.
“I really liked the energy that they brought,” Rahe said of his bench. “We need that production from our bench if we’re going to have a chance to be competitive in our league. We’ve got to get people stepping up, and we’ve got the guys to do it — we’ve just got to get them the confidence to do it.”
The Wildcats picked up right where they left off in the first half as they kicked off the final 20 minutes of the game with a 24-2 run to open up a 50-point lead over an obviously frustrated Firebirds squad.
True freshman Jeremy Senglin started connecting from long distance and caught fire as he accounted for 13 of the ‘Cats first 24 points in the second half, including three treys, to spark WSU.
“The last couple of games I wasn’t playing to my potential,” Senglin said. “I just worked out really hard with the coaching staff and I picked it up.”
Weber State shot the lights out in the second half as it went 22 for 31 from the field, including 6 for 11 from downtown, to open up its biggest lead of the night at 71 points.
A total of nine different Wildcats reached the box score, while six scored in double figures to power the home team.
Aside from Tresnak (17 points, nine rebounds), Berry (16 points, six boards, eight assists) and Senglin (23 points), true freshmen Richaud Gittens (13 points, eight rebounds), Kyndahl Hill (11 points, five boards) and Fuller (10 points, 10 rebounds) all had solid games to help anchor the purple and white.
“It was great. It felt awesome to just be out there with the guys,” Fuller said. “You see it every day. You see how hard they work, and to be able to go out and be a part of it was really special for me. I really enjoyed it.”
The 71-point win is the largest margin of victory in Weber State University history.
Having picked up their second win of the season, the Wildcats now head to Pauley Pavilion to take on No. 22 UCLA on Sunday night.
“It gets us into a rhythm. We had 12 days off and went backwards a little bit, and tonight’s game felt like we got back into that rhythm a little bit,” added Rahe. “So yeah, it’s going to help us (going into UCLA) just from a game standpoint.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724