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Wildcats face Montana for Big Sky Tournament title
Courtesy: Weber State  
Release: Sunday 03/07/2012
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Weber State will look for its 15th NCAA Tournament appearance as they face Montana in the Big...

Weber State (24-5) will take on Montana (24-6) in the championship game of the Big Sky Tournament Wednesday in Missoula, Montana.  The game will be televised live nationally on ESPN2.   
 
QUICK HITS
•  Weber State (24-5) will take on Montana (24-6) in the championship game of the Big Sky Tournament Wednesday in Missoula, Montana.  
•  The Wildcats are coming off a 69-63 win over Portland State Tuesday in the semifinals.  Montana beat Eastern Washington 74-66. 
•  The two teams will meet in the Big Sky Tournament for the third straight year. 
•  Weber State is seeking its ninth Big Sky Tournament championship and the first since 2007.  Montana has won seven tournament titles.  
•  Montana has won 13 straight games and 19 of its last 20.    
•  Big Sky MVP Damian Lillard needs seven points to become WSU’s all-time single-season scoring leader.    
 
MORE ON WEDNESDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
  The Wildcats and Grizzlies will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night from
Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Montana. 
   The game will be broadcast live on KZNS-1280 AM “The Zone” with the voice of the Wildcats and the 2011 Utah Sportscaster of the Year Carl Arky calling the action and Dutch Belnap providing color commentary.
 The game will also be televised live on national TV on ESPN2 with Roxy Bernstein and Miles Simon calling the action.  It will also be broadcast on Westwood One national radio.  The game will not be available on bigskytv.org. Live stats will be available at statbroadcast.com. 
 
LILLARD NAMED DISTRICT VIII PLAYER OF THE YEAR
 On Tuesday Damian Lillard was honored as the District VIII Player of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association.  He was also named as one of 15 finalists for the John Wooden Player of the Year Award.
 Then Lillard took the floor and led the Wildcats in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Portland State.  He was 6-14 from the field, 9-10 from the free throw line and tied his career-high with four steals, along with four assists.  Lillard has led the Wildcats in scoring in 23 of 29 games this season.  Thursday’s game was the 100th game of Lillard’s career at Weber State.   
 Lillard was named the Big Sky Conference MVP last week after one of the best seasons in Weber State history, becoming just the fourth athlete in Big Sky history to win conference MVP honors twice in his career.  He earned the honor as a sophomore in the 2009-10 season.  He joins Harold Arceneaux (1999 and 2000) as the only other Wildcat to win the award twice and he is one of seven Wildcats to ever earn MVP honors since the league began the award in 1978-79. 
 Lillard has led the nation in scoring for most of the season and currently is second in the country with an average of 24.4 points per game, the best single-season average in WSU history.  He has scored in double figures in all 29 games this season and has scored 20 or more points 19 times, 30 or more eight times, and has scored 40 or more points twice this season. 
 He currently ranks second in WSU history in single-season scoring with 707 points and needs just seven more points to pass Arceneaux and become the all-time single-season leader.  He is also currently 11th in Big Sky history in single-season scoring.  Lillard has also made the most three-pointers in single-season history with 89 and has the fourth best single-season free throw percentage at 88.4 percent. 
  Lillard is second in WSU history in career scoring with 1,857 career points, which also ranks eighth in Big Sky history.  He needs just one more three-pointer to become Weber State’s career leader in three-pointers.  Last week he became the school’s career leader in free throws made, now with 498.  He is also second in WSU history in career assists with 348.  This season he has been named a finalist for the John Wooden and Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Awards as well as the Bob Cousy Award (top point guard) and Lou Henson Award (Mid-major Player of the Year).

GELAUN WHEELWRIGHT TIES CAREER-HIGH IN VICTORY
 WSU freshman Gelaun Wheelwright tied his career-high with 15 points in helping Weber State win Tuesday night.  Wheelwright played 30 minutes and scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting, including 2-5 from three-point land.  The Corona, California native also had two assists, one steal and one rebound for the ‘Cats.
 This season Wheelwright is averaging 5.2 points per game in 23 games played for the Wildcats. 
 
BAMFORTH AND TRESNAK EARN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS
 Weber State junior Scott Bamforth was named to the Big Sky All-Conference Second Team.  Bamforth is averaging 14.8 points per game this season for the Wildcats and shooting nearly 43 percent from the field.  He averaged 15.4 points per game in Big Sky games.  Bamforth had nine points in Tuesday’s win.  His 73 three-pointers made this season ranks as the eighth most in WSU single-season history.  He scored in double figures in 22 of 28 games this season and scored 20 or more points four times.  Weber State sophomore Kyle Tresnak earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors.  Tresnak is averaging 10.1 points per game and is shooting 54 percent from the field. 
 
SIXTH MOST WINS IN SCHOOL HISTORY
 Weber State has reached 24 wins for just the sixth time in school history.  The 24-5 record is WSU’s best record since going 26-6 in 2002-03.  The school record for wins in a season is 27 when WSU finished 27-3 in 1968-69 under head coach Phil Johnson.  
 
‘CATS POST SEASON LOW REBOUNDS IN WIN
 Weber State had a season-low 22 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Portland State.  The Wildcats are averaging 34.7 rebounds per game this season. 
 
SEASON TRENDS
 Weber State is 19-1 this season when leading at halftime but just 4-4 when trailing, including Tuesday’s game.  They are also 22-1 when leading with 5:00 to play in regulation but 1-4 when trailing.  They are also 19-1 leading their opponent in field goal percentage, and 22-1 when leading in free throw percentage.  The ‘Cats are also 14-0 when outrebounding their opponent and 13-0 when scoring 80 or more points.  They are also 20-1 when scoring 70 or more points but are 4-4 when scoring less than 70 points.   
 
WILDCATS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
 Weber State ranks in the top 25 in seven statistical categories.  The Wildcats continue to lead the nation in free throw percentage at 81 percent, the only team in the nation shooting better than 78 percent.  WSU is also fourth in the country in three-point field goals per game (9.1), 12th in three-point percentage (.398), 14th in turnovers (10.8), 16th in scoring offense (77.8), 17th in winning percentage (.828) and 25th in assist to turnover ratio (1.2).
 
BIG SKY TOURNAMENT TITLE ON THE LINE
  For the second-straight week Weber State will play Montana in Missoula with a Big Sky title on the line.  Last Tuesday Montana defeated Weber State 66-51 to claim the regular season title.   This will be the third straight season Weber State and Montana are meeting in the tournament.  The Wildcats are making their 14th appearance in the title game and Montana is making its 15th, including its third straight championship game appearance. 
 Weber State has won eight conference tournament titles, the most of any school in league history.  Montana has seven tournament championships.  WSU’s last tournament championship
was in 2007.  Montana defeated Weber State for the title in 2010 in Ogden.  The two teams have met five times in the conference title game with Weber State leading 3-2 all-time. 
ABOUT MONTANA
  Montana is 24-6 following a 74-66 win over Eastern Washington in the semifinals Tuesday night.  The 24 wins is tied for the second most wins in Montana history.  The Grizzlies enter Wednesday’s game having won 13 straight games, which is tied for the school record for consecutive wins.  They have won 19 of their last 20 games with the only loss since Dec. 10 coming at Weber State on Jan. 14 when the Wildcats won 80-64. 
 The Grizzlies lead the Big Sky in five categories.  They are first in the league in scoring defense at 61.5 points per game.  Weber State is first in scoring offense.  They Grizzlies are also first in field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense, blocks and steals. 
 Individually Will Cherry was named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Conference First Team.  He is fourth in the Big Sky in scoring at 16.1 points per game.  Kareem Jamar also earned First Team All-Conference honors.  He is averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds and had 18 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Eastern Washington.
 
HEAD COACH WAYNE TINKLE
  The Grizzlies are coached by former Montana standout player Wayne Tinkle who is in his sixth season with the team.  Tinkle spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Montana before becoming the head coach.  Entering the Big Sky title  game he has a 115-70 record overall and is 66-30 in Big Sky games with the Grizzlies. 
 Tinkle is 6-8 in his career against the Wildcats, with Randy Rahe 8-6 in his career against the Grizzlies.    
 
SERIES HISTORY
  This will be the 114th meeting between Weber State and Montana.  Weber State has played Montana more than any opponent in its history.  The Wildcats hold a 64-49 all-time series advantage over the Grizzlies.  Montana has won five of the last seven games played between the two teams.  In games played in Missoula Montana holds a 30-22 all-time edge and  have won the last three meetings in Missoula and six of the last eight.  The Wildcats won in Missoula in 2008 and 2009. 
 
THIS SEASON AGAINST MONTANA
   The stats are very close in the two games against Montana this season.  Weber State scored 131 in the two games and Montana scored 130 points.  WSU shot just 38 percent in the two games with Montana shooting 42 percent.  The Grizzlies also outrebounded the ‘Cats 36-34.5. 
 Weber State gave Montana its only conference loss with an 80-64 win over the Grizzlies January 14 in Ogden.  In that game Weber State committed a season low four turnovers and shot 46 percent from the field and held the Grizzlies to 38 percent shooting.  In the game last week in Missoula Weber State  had a season-low 51 points in the loss , shot a season-low 30 percent from the field, including just 3-26 from three-point land for a season-low 11 percent.  They also had a season-low four assists.
 Damian Lillard averaged 20 points per game in the two games with Scott Bamforth adding 12 points per game. 
 
2012 BIG SKY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
 
Wednesday, March 7 - Championship
Missoula, MT - Televised by ESPN2
No. 2 Weber State at No. 1 Montana   7:00 p.m.
   
WEBER STATE BIG SKY TOURNAMENT HISTORY
 This is Weber State’s 35th appearance in the Big Sky Tournament.  The Wildcats have missed the tournament just twice since it inception in 1976-77, missing the tournament in 1981 and 2006. 
 This marks the 14th time Weber State has advanced to the championship game.  It is Montana’s 15th appearance in the tournament, including its third straight championship game appearance. 
 Weber State has won eight conference tournament titles, the most of any school in league history.  Montana has seven tournament championships.  WSU’s last tournament championship was in 2007.   
 This will be the fifth time the tournament will be held in Missoula and the first since 2000.  Montana won the tournament in Missoula in 1991 and 1992.  Weber State won in Missoula in 1978 and Northern Arizona won in 2000.  The Grizzlies have won the tournament four times away from home since hosting in 2000.   
 This will be the third straight season Weber State and Montana will meet in the conference tournament, two of which are conference title games.  The Grizzlies beat the Wildcats 66-65 in the championship game in 2010 in Ogden and then beat the Wildcats in the semifinals in Greeley, Colorado last season.
 Overall the Wildcats are 5-5 all-time against the Grizzlies in the conference tournament and the Grizzlies have won four straight.  The ‘Cats last defeated the Grizzlies in the conference tournament in 1995.  The two teams have met five times in the conference title game with Weber State leading 3-2 all-time.  The ‘Cats beat the Grizzlies to win the title in 1978, 1980 and 1995.  Montana beat the Wildcats in the title game in 2005 and 2010.
 
WEBER STATE IN THE BIG SKY TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
1976: Boise State 77, Weber State 70 (2ot) - Ogden, UT
1977: Idaho State 61, Weber State 55 - Pocatello, ID
1978: Weber State 62, Montana 55 (ot) - Missoula, MT
1979: Weber State 92, Northern Arizona 70 - Ogden, UT
1980: Weber State 50, Montana 42 - Ogden, UT
1983: Weber State 87, Nevada 78 - Reno, NV
1995: Weber State 84, Montana 62 - Ogden, UT
1996: Montana State 81, Weber State 70 - Bozeman, MT
1999: Weber State 82, Northern Arizona 75 - Ogden, UT
2003: Weber State 60, Eastern Washington 57
2005: Montana 63, Weber State 61 - Portland, OR
2007: Weber State 88, Northern Arizona 81 - Ogden, UT
2010: Montana 66, Weber State 65 - Ogden, UT
WEBER STATE VS. MONTANA IN BIG SKY TOURNAMENT
1978: Weber State 62, Montana 55 (ot) (champ) - Missoula, MT
1979: Weber State 98, Montana 71 (semifinals) - Ogden, UT
1980: Weber State 50, Montana 42 (championship) - Ogden, UT
1983: Weber State 54, Montana 53 (semifinals) - Reno, NV
1986: Montana 72, Weber State 68 (semifinals) - Reno, NV
1995: Weber State 84, Montana 62 (championship) - Ogden, UT
1997: Montana 81, Weber State 56 (semifinals) - Flagstaff, AZ
2005: Montana 63, Weber State 61 (championship) - Portland, OR
2010: Montana 66, Weber State 65 (championship) - Ogden, UT
2011: Montana 57, Weber State 40 (semifinals) - Greeley, CO
 
INJURY REPORT
 WSU junior Frank Otis returned to action in last week at Montana.  Otis has missed 18 games this season with knee injuries.  Freshman center James Hajek will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.  So far this on the year Weber State has missed 41 player games due to injury. 
 


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