OGDEN, Utah - It only lacked Steve McQueen on a motorcycle. Weber State traversed the final 7:28 of the game without scoring a field goal, lost the lead at three different junctures, yet somehow escaped with a 59-57 victory over arch-rival Idaho State Thursday night before 3,227 fans in the Dee Events Center. The win, combined with loss by Northern Arizona on the road at Northern Colorado, temporarily puts the Wildcats in the Big Sky Conference driver’s seat with a 6-2 record.
Idaho State came out swinging in the first half with a quick 9-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game and took a 21-14 lead on a lay up by Logan Kinghorn with 8:56 left.
The Wildcats then put together a 19-5 scoring run to finish off the half led by Kellen McCoy who scored seven of his 12 points during that run. WSU made 11-22 first half shots and were 9-12 from the line. ISU was a decent 11-25 from the floor but had just one free throw attempt.
Behind five quick points from Arturas Valeika, Weber State jumped out to a 38-28 lead in the first three minutes of the second half but saw that lead slowly dwindle over the next nine minutes with the Bengals putting together a nifty 20-10 scoring run to forge a 48-48 tie on a three-pointer by Austin Kilpatrick with 8:31 remaining
The Bengals got their first second half lead at the 7:49 mark on a pair of free throws by ISU’s scoring leader Matt Stucki who finished the game with 12 points after being held to just three first half points.
Brody VanBrocklin answered with a three-pointer just 20 seconds later giving WSU a 51-50 lead. That would be the last basket of the game by the Wildcats.
A crucial three-pointer by Kilpatrick put ISU up three at 56-53 with 3:41 left and it looked as though the Bengals had everything in place to pick up the win.
Weber State took back the lead with 40 seconds left on two free throws by Valeika making it 58-57. On the following possession ISU’s Amorrow Morgan was called for a travel.
The Wildcats in bounded the ball and got in the hands of McCoy. He was fouled by Morgan with 13 seconds left. He made the first shot but missed the second and ISU, without any timeouts remaining, pushed the ball quickly up the floor where a 10-footer with four seconds left by Lucas Steijn hit the rim and fell into the hand of Valeika for his 13th rebound of the contest and time expired.
Weber State was a paltry 5-21 (.238) from the field in the second half but made 14-17 from the line and 23-29 for the game.
Valeika put together his seventh "double/double" of the season with a game high 13 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Wildcats. McCoy had 12 off the bench and Dezmon Harris added 11.
Idaho State is now 8-13 overall, 5-3 in Big Sky play. Weber State moves to 11-9 overall and 6-2 in conference play. The I-15 freeway series now moves north 135 miles for a Saturday, February 2nd meeting in Pocatello, Idaho. Tip off inside Holt Arena is set for 7:05 p.m. (MST).