GAME NOTES: Two Big Sky Conference squads heading in opposite directions are set to face off on Monday night when the Weber State Wildcats welcome the Idaho State Bengals to the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.
Idaho State hasn't had much success this season, as it sits with just four wins through 22 contests. Since winning three of four from Jan. 5-17, the Bengals have suffered six consecutive losses to fall to 3-10 in Big Sky action, most recently dropping an overtime decision at home last Thursday to Southern Utah, 81-79.
Meanwhile, Weber State has shined at 16-5 overall and 11-2 in league play, although it is still two and a half games behind first-place Montana. The Wildcats have won three straight decisions, including a 75-58 triumph over SUU on Saturday to improve to 9-1 at the Dee Events Center.
Weber State traveled to Pocatello on Jan. 14 and handed Idaho State a 70-54 defeat, improving to 72-41 in the all-time series.
By its standards, Idaho State had an offensive explosion in its last game with 79 points, shooting 41.2 percent from the field and taking advantage of a busy night from the foul line (33-of-40), but it could not outlast Southern Utah as it was saddled with the two-point overtime setback. Tomas Sanchez led the way with 19 points and five assists, but he committed six turnovers. Andre Hatchett tallied 18 points, Melvin Morgan had 15, and Neveij Walters chipped in with 11. The Bengals are usually less productive at the offensive end, shooting just 39.5 percent from the field for a Big Sky-worst 54.8 ppg, which ranks above only TCU, Howard and Grambling in all of Division I. Morgan (11.8 ppg) and Chris Hansen (10.8 ppg) are the team's top scoring options, but both are awful from the field, making less than 35 percent of their total shots. Sanchez is a solid floor general with 10.5 ppg and 3.5 apg.
Weber State had no problem dismissing Souther Utah on Saturday night, outshooting the Thunderbirds from the field, .532 to .291, on its way to a 17- point victory. Davion Berry (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Scott Bamforth (15 points, four assists) were both great from long range, as each shot 4-of-7 from 3-point territory. Jordan Richardson netted 15 points in the victory, while Kyle Tresnak tallied eight points and nine boards. Although they don't sit atop the Big Sky standings, the Wildcats are far and away the league's most impressive statistical team, ranking first in scoring (77.1 ppg), field goal percentage (.506), 3-point percentage (.425), scoring defense (61.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.386), scoring margin (+15.4) and rebounding margin (+5.7). Berry pours in 14.6 ppg and dishes out 3.4 apg, while Bamforth has connected on 52-of-116 from 3-point range (.448) on his way to 13.6 ppg. Tresnak (11.8 ppg) and Frank Otis (9.0 ppg) both grab 5.8 rpg, and Joel Bolomboy scores just 7.0 ppg but is a difference-maker in the paint with 8.2 ppg and 1.8 bpg.
With one of the league's strongest teams hosting a squad playing as poorly as Idaho State, the writing is on the wall in this one. The Wildcats could put this one out of reach by halftime.
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