Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weber State Battles, But Falls to Arizona

In the end, Weber State was not to be the first 16 seed to topple a one seed, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Wildcats of Weber State battled down to the final buzzer, losing to Arizona 68-59 to end the Big Sky season. We talked about how Arizona is possibly the best defensive team in the country - and that was shown in this game - but Weber State was not intimidated, and even managed to make things interesting down the stretch.

Weber State shot 30% from the floor, and still found a way to make Arizona sweat. They should be proud of their efforts.

Weber State got off to an early 7-0 run, but Arizona moved quickly to take back the lead, going on a 32-13 run the rest of the first half. For long stretches, Weber State was just not able to get enough buckets to stay in the game. However, they just kept attacking. Davion Berry was just 5/20 FG, but he made shots down the stretch, and stayed aggressive going to the hoop, finishing with 10 free throw attempts. It was a nice end to a great two year career in purple for him, as he was clearly not afraid of the big stage.

Another guy that showcased himself was big man Joel Bolomboy, who finished with 16 rebounds, seven of them offensive. As we have said really since he got to Weber State - his offensive game is not polished, but he is an NBA level rebounder and athlete in the frontcourt. Arizona coach Sean Miller said after the game he thought Bolomboy would be an NBA player, and it's hard to disagree.

It was an up and down year for the Big Sky, as evidenced by the 16 seed that Weber State received. However, the Wildcats represented themselves and the Big Sky well, playing a great team very tough, never backing down, and never letting up, even when the Arizona lead grew in the second half. It was a great learning experience for the young guys (Jeremy Senglin was the freshman of the year in the conference, but fellow freshman Richaud Gittens could be an all-conference player very soon), and a great showcase for the program, especially after they came up just short the last couple of seasons.

In the end, perhaps the highest praise came from Miller, who said this after the game:

"Weber is one of the best teams we've played all season," Miller said. "We've played some of the great teams in college basketball and I don't care what the name of their conference is or what they say on their shirt."
Great game, and an excellent season for a great program.

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