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Weber State basketball: Wildcats benefitting from CIT run

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe, center, says only good can come from Weber State's run to the title game of the collegeinsider.come title game Tuesday in Ogen.

By Martin Renzhofer

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 01 2013 02:13PM
Updated Apr 2, 2013 12:24AM

Ogden • Weber State has enjoyed its run to the Tournament title game.

First, Tuesday’s 6 p.m. championship between Weber State (30-6) and Conference USA’s East Carolina (22-12) is a reward for the players, including seniors Scott Bamforth and Frank Otis.

"No matter what tournament you’re in, you try to win," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "And to be home for the last game of the year is special."

Yet, there may be a larger impact for whichever team wins in terms of recruiting. The tournament has kept Weber State’s name in the sports pages in March. In addition, the game will be nationally broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

The Dee Events Center is expected to loud.

"Anytime you’re on national television it helps," Rahe said. "Your recruits watch, they see all of the support inside our great arena. It helps you."

East Carolina is on the same kind of run. The Pirates hadn’t won in four postseason chances prior to going 4-0 in the 2013 CIT, including an 81-58 pounding of Evansville on Saturday in a semifinal.

Tuesday’s game will be ECU’s first CIT road game. WSU earned its title berth by winning at Northern Iowa, 59-56.

"We wanted to make a name for East Carolina basketball," said ECU’s leading scorer, senior forward Maurice Kemp, after Saturday’s win. "That’s been our main goal. We all focused and spent this whole season grinding it out and we’re able to make history this year. It’s something to be very proud of."

The extended season has allowed Weber State to make some history of its own, including wins in a season. Bamforth set season and career marks for 3-point baskets, breaking the records set just last season by Damian Lillard.

The Wildcats, also the first Big Sky Conference team in any kind of postseason championship game, want just one more victory, but it won’t come easily against the athletic Pirates.

"Of all the teams we’ve faced in the tournament, [East Carolina] is easily the most talented," Rahe said. "And that’s how it should be. It’s the finals."

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