They are the second-oldest team in the country, and they played with great poise. —Weber State coach Randy Rahe
OGDEN — Leading for much of Saturday’s game against Idaho, a five-minute, late second-half scoring drought contributed to Weber State's dropping a 2nd consecutive Big Sky game, 68-62 to the Vandals. Although the Wildcats have clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament, the loss drops Weber State (19-9, 12-4) into a second-place tie with Idaho in the conference standings.
The Wildcats, who have road games remaining at Montana and Montana State, were led in scoring by senior Ryan Richardson with 17. Fellow senior Dusty Baker closed out his home career with 14 points and eight assists.
“Idaho is a really good basketball team; you can tell they have six seniors,” Randy Rahe, Weber State coach said. “They are the second-oldest team in the country, and they played with great poise.”
Richardson’s 3-pointer at the 7:36 mark of the second half gave Weber State their last lead of the game, 55-54. For five anguishing minutes, the Wildcats couldn’t buy a basket and with center Zach Braxton in foul trouble, the senior-laden Vandals crept out to a 60-55 lead. Brekkott Chapman hit a pair of free throws at the 2:27 mark to break the scoring drought, but Idaho jumped back to a 62-57 lead.
Chapman hit a 25-foot 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, but Vandal Brayon Blake scored on a reverse layup as the Vandals scored eight of the games final ten points on their way to a 20th win of the season.
The Wildcats hit 48 percent of their first-half shots but connected on just 30 percent in the second half.
“They were trying to push us out, and they did a good job of keeping us away from the perimeter,” Richardson said. “We got a couple shots that we wanted, and they just didn’t fall.”
The second-best three-point shooting team in the nation got it going early from behind the arc. Seniors Richardson and Baker, honored before the game on senior night, got the ball rolling by making consecutive 3-pointers. Baker had a solid first half with 11 points and four assists, one of them to Brekkott Chapman for a dunk and an 8-3 Wildcat lead.
The Big Sky’s leading scorer, Jerrick Harding, got it going early Saturday. The sophomore knocked down an early deep ball, scored on a floater in the lane and then hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Weber State opened their largest lead of the half, 21-11.
Idaho got hot late in the half, outscoring Weber State 21-11 to tie the contest at 32. Chapman scored inside and Richardson hit a 3-pointer as Weber State took a 37-32 lead into the locker-room.
After the game, Rahe talked about his two seniors that combined for 31 points.
“They were terrific tonight, they are great kids, they are perfect Weber State-type players,” Rahe said. “They have all the character in the world, and they care about their teammates as much if not more than themselves.”
Baker, who was joined on senior night and his birthday by his family from Coto de Caza, California, reflected on how much he’s enjoyed the ride at Weber State.
“This is not the way we wanted to go out as seniors, but we have more important dreams than just this one game,” Baker said. “I just wanted to thank all the fans, my teammates, coaches everyone at Weber, it’s been a dream come true for me.”
At halftime of the game, the 2003 Weber State basketball team that went undefeated in Big Sky Conference play was honored. Former players including Jermaine Boyette, along with coach Joe Cravens, were part of the festivities.