SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Weber State buried 11 three-pointers, shot 55.0 percent (11-20) from distance, and didn't trail the final 38:34 of the contest on the way to a 70-55 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Thursday evening at the Nest.
The Wildcats, who entered the game as the nation's leaders in both field percentage and three-point field goal percentage, didn't disappoint on a night which saw an overflow crowd of 1,362 fill the Nest. Weber State finished the game shooting 45.1 percent (23-51) from the field and 76.5 percent (13-17) from the free throw line while outscoring the Hornets by at least seven points in both halves.
The loss dealt the Hornets (13-13, 7-10) a blow in the team's quest to qualify for the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season. With three games remaining in the regular season, the top seven teams in the 11-member league qualify for the postseason event, and if the season ended today, the Hornets would be out.
Sacramento State's 7-10 record is eighth best in the conference, but the team sits just one game or less behind four different teams. Montana State, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona are all 8-9 while Northern Colorado is 8-10. The Hornets, who play their final home game on Saturday against Idaho State and road games next week against the Montana schools, will likely have to go 2-1 over their final three games to have a shot at qualifying for the tournament.
Weber State, which beat the Hornets for the 12th straight time, improved to 21-5 overall and 15-2 in the conference. The Wildcats have won eight straight and did not lose during the month of February. Weber State and Montana (15-1) are battling for the regular season championship and the right to host the Big Sky Tournament.
The Hornets scored the first points of the game on a layup at the 19:09 mark of the first half, but Weber State answered with a 7-0 spurt over the game's next two minutes to take a 7-2 lead. Neither team led by more than five points the first 18:22 of the first half, and a jumper pulled the Hornets within, 23-22 with 4:28 remaining in the half. However, the Wildcats closed the half on a 9-3 run to go into halftime with a 32-25 lead.
Both teams exchanged baskets the first nine minutes of the second half, and the Hornets found themselves down just six points (44-38) after a three-pointer with 10:43 to play. However, Weber State responded with a 17-4 run over the next 4:32 to take a game-high 19-point lead (61-42) with 6:37 to play. Six different Wildcats scored during the run, which included three three-pointers. After a Kyle Tresnak jumper gave Weber State the 19-point lead, the Hornets got no closer than within 11 points of the Wildcat lead the rest of the way.
While Weber State was burying shots from all over the arc, Sacramento State shot just 4-of-14 (.286) from distance, and 39.6 percent (21-53) overall from the field. The Hornets shot well from the free throw line (.818), but only had 11 attempts.
The Wildcats outrebounded the Hornets, 37-28, and held commanding advantages in both second-chance points (10-0) and fast break points (7-0). Sacramento State was limited to just three offensive rebounds the entire evening. Both teams combined for just 15 turnovers and six steals.
Leading the Weber State three-point barrage were Davion Berry (22 points, seven assists, 4-of-7 from distance) and Scott Bamforth (14 points, 4-of-6 from distance). Joel Bolomboy had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Gelaun Wheelwright added a pair of three-pointers. The Hornets did limit Frank Otis, who entered the game second in the nation with a .682 field goal percentage, to just 2-of-13 shooting from the field.
Sacramento State had two players finish in double figures, comprised of center (12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks) and point guard (12 points and eight assists with just one turnover). Veteto shot 6-of-8 from the field and raised his season field goal percentage to 51.0 percent.
John Dickson added seven points, six rebounds and three blocks, had a season-high seven points on 3-of-3 shooting, had five points and six rebounds, and added six points, four assists and no turnovers.
Prior to Saturday night's game against Idaho State (7:05 p.m. tip), Hornet seniors , Dickson, Eberhard and Veteto will be honored for their contributions to the program.