SALT LAKE CITY — There is a common cliche in basketball, particularly the NBA, where players routinely tout that "it is a make or miss league."
Simply put, basketball games come down to making shots. The team that makes more usually wins.
The adage proved true for the Weber State Wildcats Saturday afternoon at Vivint Arena in front of a crowd of 10,678.
Weber State lost to Utah State 76-67 in the second leg of the Beehive Classic, and it was in no small part due to its inability to put the ball in the net.
The Wildcats converted just 24 of 60 shot attempts, for a shooting percentage of 40 percent.
The team’s shooting woes were even worse when it came to attempts from behind the arc, as Weber State hit just six 3-pointers on 21 attempts, good for 28.6 percent shooting.
Throw in a pretty dismal night at the charity stripe — Weber State hit 13 of 20 free throws — and the outing was one of the Wildcats' worst nights of shooting this season.
“We didn’t do what we had to do to be successful” Weber State forward/center Zach Braxton said. “In practice, throughout the week, in the game, nothing was what Weber State does. We didn’t do what we needed to do.”
That isn’t anything new for the Wildcats, who suffered a disappointing 71-52 defeat to Fresno State Wednesday, ahead of Saturday’s action.
Weber State struggled to make shots in that game too, something head coach Randy Rahe credited to the Bulldogs and the Aggies.
“I think we just played two really good defensive teams,” Rahe said. “If you look at the defensive efficiency of (Fresno State and Utah State), they are top 30 or 40 in the country. We aren’t shooting the ball well, but we also played two really good defenses. Fresno State’s defense was unbelievable, the best defense I’ve seen in two years, and Utah State is a really good, veteran team. Credit to those teams and how they guard you.”
Weber State’s recent shooting woes are about more than just stout competition, however.
Against the Aggies it came down to a lack of energy.
“I was disappointed in our first half. I didn’t think we had the energy that we were looking for. I just didn’t think we had the energy, the juice that first half that we have been playing with and they were able to get away from us in the first half,” Rahe said.
He said the Wildcats' recent struggles have sapped their confidence a bit, which Braxton believes has changed the way they’ve played.
“We didn’t come out the right way. That is what happened,” Braxton said. “We play a lot harder than that, a lot faster than that and with more passion. If you have good pace on offense and are sharing the ball, it is going to go in. If you are not playing fast, are not getting to screens fast, not rolling fast, it isn’t.”1 comment on this story
Things perked up for Weber State in the second half against Utah State — the team shot 40 percent or better from both the field and from three — but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
“Second half I thought we competed really hard, we got our juice and energy back and started to play the way we can play,” Rahe said.
“We did,” Braxton added, “because we hit kind of desperation mode. We realized we’d played three halves of really bad basketball and we needed to make a change. Sadly it wasn’t enough.”