We did some hard things all week, and what you hope for is the guys on game night will respond. —Weber State coach Randy Rahe
OGDEN — Five days after their worst 3-point shooting night of the season, Randy Rahe’s Weber State Wildcats scorched the nets of the Dee Events Center from deep. Six different Wildcats netted 3-pointers as Weber State connected on 11-22 from behind the arc earning a 95-55 win over Northern Arizona.
After a disappointing home loss to Idaho State, Weber State coach Randy Rahe put his guys through the ringer with tough practices all week. The results paid dividends as Weber State dished out 18 assists with six different players, led by Jerrick Harding’s 17, reaching double figures.
“We did some hard things all week, and what you hope for is the guys on game night will respond,” Rahe said. “I thought we competed really hard. I thought we did all the things we wanted to do better. The biggest thing was how the guys responded, and, sometimes, a little tough love is good for them.”
Weber State got off to a fast start with Ryan Richardson draining a 3-pointer to start the game. Two straight Lumberjack possessions resulted in shot-clock violations, and the Wildcats took a 5-0 lead when Harding fed Zack Braxton for a two-hand dunk. After a slow start, NAU got untracked and tied the game at 7-7 on a Chris Bowling trey.
Braxton got loose with a nifty post move, and Harding drained his first bucket, a deep 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 12-7 lead. All told, Weber State scalded the nets of the Dee Events Center early, knocking down 4 of 5 from deep, including a make from Dusty Baker to lead 15-7.
Northern Arizona, looking nothing like a 3-12 squad early, battled back as Bowling added a basket and a 3-pointer that cut Weber State’s lead to 18-17.
Midway through the first half, the Weber State bench made its presence known. Freshman Ricky Nelson scored on a driving basket. After back-to-back inside hoops from Braxton, Nelson knocked down a 3-pointer. Sophomore Jordan Dallas uncorked his 6-foot-10 frame with a defensive tie-up, two baskets in the low-post and a 12-footer that gave Weber State a 35-23 lead.
Dallas contributed 10 points, three rebounds and provided length inside that helped limit Northern Arizona to a night of 32 percent shooting.
“I think the big thing for the bench is to go out and compete and match that same energy as the starters give,” Dallas said.
Nelson, played 22 minutes and contributed 13 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Weber State bench erupted for 37 points.
“The coaches were on us all week about our defensive effort and not playing hard so we just made sure to come out and play real hard,” Nelson said. “I just do anything the coaches need me to do, anything my teammates need me to do, anything whether its rebounding, scoring or getting assists.
After leading 39-27 at intermission, the Wildcats cranked their effort up on both sides of the ball. A 10-2 run fueled by baskets from Michal Kozak, Brekkott Chapman, a pull-up jumper from Richardson and another two-hand flush from Braxton extended the Wildcat lead to 49-29.
All told, Weber State outscored Northern Arizona 56-28 over the game's final 20 minutes. After shuffling lineups over the Holidays, Rahe was glad to see everyone healthy and competing together for the first time.
“The second half, we combined the competitiveness we needed to have with more enthusiasm,” Rahe said. “We competed in the first half but the second half we combined both of those things.”
Five days after assisting on four baskets and committing 16 turnovers, Rahe said, his team was mentally ready to play.
“I can’t remember a team of mine that had four assists and 16 turnovers,” Rahe said. Tonight our minds were right and we were locked in and ready to compete.”
Weber State, (8-6, 1-1) hosts Southern Utah Saturday in Ogden.