Weber State has a chance this week to make its first statement regarding the Big Sky Conference basketball race. But first, Wildcats must avoid a speed bump.
Montana visits the Dee Events Center on Saturday in what potentially is a matchup of undefeated BSC teams. Prior to that, though, WSU hosts Montana State on Thursday. Both games begins at 7 p.m. (The game will be broadcast on 1280 AM.)
Weber State completed its first league road trip of the season in successful manner to improve to 4-0 in conference while wining six straight. Montana, 3-0 in conference and winners of five straight, is at Northern Arizona on Thursday.
Of course, WSU coach Randy Rahe’s focus is on Montana State, which enters Thursday’s game with a 7-7 overall record and a 2-1 mark in conference games. The Wildcats are 8-0 at home this season, which is their best home start since the 2002-03 season when they finished 13-0 at home.
“Montana State is extremely athletic and they can really shoot the ball,” Rahe said. “They do a lot of different things offensively and we will have our hands full. Both games this week will be big challenges for us.”
The Wildcats (12-3) were successful at Eastern Washington and Portland State thanks in large part to junior guard Damian Lillard. The nation’s leading scorer (26.3 points) averaged 34 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one block per game in WSU’s two wins.
He also shot 47.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from 3-point range and 94.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Lillard also scored his 1,500th career point, which places him sixth in school history behind Bruce Collins, 2,019; Jimmy DeGraffenried, 1,624; Jermaine Boyette, 1,613; Willie Sojourner, 1,563; and Jimmy Watts 1,553. Odds are, Lillard will finish the season in second place.
Junior Scott Bamforth also play a large role in WSU’s comeback at Portland State by scoring 21 points, with 19 coming in the second half.
Weber State also has another injury. Freshman post Kyle Tresnak dilsocated his right knee last weekend and is expected to miss three to four weeks. He joined starters Kyle Bullinger (dislocated right elbow) and Frank Otis (left knee), who have been out more than a month.
“You only need five to play,” Rahe said. “We’ve got a few more players.”