In a game that tipped off over two weeks ago in Holt Arena, the Idaho State men’s basketball team fell to the Weber State Wildcats, 85-73, Wednesday night at Reed Gym in a game that took 18 days to complete and featured two different locations.
Idaho State (4-16, 1-6 BSC) fell in a 13-2 hole to Weber State (11-7, 6-1 BSC) on Jan. 7 before snow fell onto the court at Holt Arena, causing the game to be postponed and moved to Reed Gym.
The Bengals had yet to make a field goal, turned the ball over three times in the last 2:50 and the Wildcats were on an 8-0 run.
Wednesday night, the Bengals started on a 4-0 run and would have lead 8-6 at the first media timeout had the game started out scoreless.
“We spotted them eleven points,” said guard Ethan Telfair, who finished with 22 points. “You know from the jump it is an uphill battle.”
Wednesday night, the team had a different strategy.
“I think we need to attack the basket more,” said head coach Bill Evans. “He had a bad night, but we have a seven-footer who is shooting probably 68 percent from the floor. Probably need to throw it down there. Rob was 9-for-14. Probably need to throw it down there.”
ISU outscored Weber in the paint 24-20, but the Wildcats gathered their point a different way.
Nineteen of Weber’s 31 first half shots were from deep as the Wildcats shot 57.9 percent from behind the arc. Weber knocked down 11 threes in the first half and two Wildcats found themselves in double digits at the conclusion of the first twenty minutes – Ryan Richardson with 15 and Jeremy Senglin with 14.
“They picked apart our zone,” Evans said.
The shooting brigade was an act of a 45-point Weber first half, featuring a 21-point Wildcat lead at the 6:21 mark of the first half.
ISU swapped out its zone defense for man-to-man and leaned on Robert Jones III, who finished with 22 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
“I was very reluctant to do it because we don’t work on it much,” Evans said on the switch to man-to-man defense. “I think we could get a lot better than we were tonight in it.”
The Bengals cut the lead to as little as five in the second half by way of a 15-1 run over 2:50 of play.
“It was Ethan,” Jones said on his second half performance. “He was getting double and triple-teamed, which was opening it up for everybody else to make plays.”
The Wildcats countered ISU’s 15-1 run with stingy defense following a timeout as the Bengals went the next 3:02 without a field goal.
Weber slowly extended the game back out to double digits and the Bengals never managed to take the lead.
“I judge getting better by winning,” Telfair said. “I don’t judge it by getting close to winning.”
The Bengals closed the night 0-for-7 from the field and saw another one of their best players go down.
Geno Luzcando left the game in the first half with the help of a trainer, who had a towel pinned against his head.
“It’s worth twelve points,” Evans said on Luzcando’s departure. “It hurts when one of your best player is out of the game. He got hit pretty hard. The other kid came back and played but my guy sat out.”
Had the game started 0-0, ISU would have lost by one. But since the game was picked up where it left off, the Bengals lost by twelve.
“We can’t judge that because we only played five minutes at Holt and I don’t think anybody likes playing at Holt,” Telfair said. “We came out more aggressive and we knew we had to be more aggressive because we were playing from behind.”
Regardless of the scenarios, Brandon Boyd ended the night with no points. The freshman, who is averaging 11.7 point per game, didn’t attempt a shot either night.
“He had plenty of chances,” Evans said. “If you don’t get good shots, you shouldn’t shoot. Apparently, he didn’t think he had good shots, so he didn’t shoot. I think he did a great job, defensively.”
ISU has lost two of its last three games and sits with Northern Arizona at the bottom of the Big Sky.
The Bengals have played the conference’s top four teams and will replay the first place Wildcats Saturday night in Ogden.
“I think there are some real positives here,” Evans said. “I think we did some good things. I think we’re a team that is getting better. We’re still trying to find some things that we need to do to get better, but we’re getting better.”