Ogden • Scott Bamforth leapt off the bench, twirling a towel, encouraging more volume from the spectators inside the Dee Events Center.
As the game clock reached zero, Weber State players joined Bamforth in his exaltation.
Although the final score spoke volumes, even the 87-63 result did not fully encompass the thorough beating Weber State handed the Grizzlies, who came into Thursday’s Big Sky Conference contest riding a 27-game league win streak.
“We slipped up at their place,” said WSU guard Gelaun Wheelwright about Montana’s 2-point victory in Missoula in January. “We feel like we should have won.
“Actually this week, ever since Monday, we were looking forward to this game. All we could talk about in practice was playing this game.”
Weber State (18-5, 13-2 BSC) dominated every phase of play. The Wildcats, patient to a fault, finished with as many assists, 21, as the Grizzlies (18-5, 14-1) had baskets.
Weber State’s one-sided victory also sliced Montana’s lead in the race for the BSC title to one game with six to play.
“Our guys were really locked in tonight,” Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. “But we not only played really really hard ... and had a good sense of urgency, but we played with some poise and composure.”
The Wildcats blew open as much as a 31-point margin before Rahe pulled the plug and emptied his bench. The WSU coach said the effort was as close as his team had come this season to playing a full 40 minutes.
“It was close,” he said. “It really is.”
Weber State began by pounding the inside. Kyle Tresnak and Frank Otis, thanks to great ball movement around UM’s zone, shredded the Grizzlies’ interior defense.
They combined for 33 points.
Then WSU perimeter players, including Wheelwright, began to find the seam in the zone and bombed away from the outside. Wheelwright finished with 14 points.
WSU’s defense frustrated Montana’s go-to players Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar and stopped each Grizzlies run before it could gain momentum.
With six minutes to play, Montana cut WSU’s lead to 17. Tresnak responded by slamming home a missed shot. He blocked Montana’s next shot, which resulted in crowd-raising fastbreak and an acrobatic Berry lay-in and 3-point play to give WSU a 76-52 lead.
Berry later finished a four-point play.
“I wasn’t paying attention to that, I was just trying to ride the momentum,” said Berry, who played a terrific game with 16 points, six assists and three steals.
“We just wanted to come out and prove a point. We’re not going to get cocky or anything. We still have a couple games left and we have to get ready for Saturday, but this was a statement game.”
R Weber State finishes with 21 assists, including six each from Davion Berry and Scott Bamforth.
• The Wildcats take the lead for good early in the first half and eventually built a 31-point advantage.
• Weber State shoots 58 percent, 47 percent from beyond the 3-point line.