GREELEY, Colo. - Damian Lillard scored 30 points and dished out eight assists to lead Weber State to an 88-71 win over Northern Colorado Thursday night in Greeley. The win is the seventh straight for the Wildcats who have also won 17 of their last 18 games.
The Wildcats never trailed in the game, the eighth time this season they have led wire-to-wire, however the game was close until the end.
Weber State jumped out to a quick 14-6 lead six minutes into the game and led by as many as 12 points with 9:00 to play but the Bears fought back and cut the lead to three points at 27-24 with 6:17 to play. Weber State was able to take a 48-39 lead at halftime.
In the second half the Bears cut the lead to three points at 57-54 with 13:33 to play but Weber State responded with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes and never looked back.
The Wildcats shot 47 percent from the field and finished with 17 assists and only six turnovers. They were also 23-26 from the free throw line and remain first in the nation in free throw percentage at 81 percent shooting.
"I was really pleased with our mindset and how we approached the game," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. "We really played well on both sides of the floor and really executed our game plan well."
Lillard finished the night 6-15 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. He also tied his career-high with 13 free throws, finishing 13-14 from the line. The eight assists is just one off his career-high.
He remains second in the nation in scoring, now at 24.7 points per game. It was the eighth time this season he has scored 30 or more points in a game. He moved over 1,800 career points and tied Jermaine Boyette as the WSU career leader in free throws made with 486. He also broke his own single-season three-point record, now with 86 three-pointers this season.
"We really focused on preventing them from having good looks and we got to them defensively and made them have tough shots," Lillard said. "I was trying to attack and get to the line and I tried to stay aggressive and our team really stepped up and made shots."
Freshman Gelaun Wheelwright came off the bench for a career-high 15 points on 5-7 shooting. Kyle Tresnak added 14 points and Kyle Bullinger had 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Darin Mahoney had six points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Weber State improves to 23-4 on the season and is now 14-1 in Big Sky play. The 'Cats will finish the regular season at Montana Tuesday night, a game that will determine the Big Sky champion and the team that will host the conference tournament. Montana is 13-1 in Big Sky play and will host Montana State Saturday before hosting the Wildcats Tuesday.