Weber State basketball: Idaho State beats Wildcats
Pocatello, Idaho • With 17 seconds to play and trailing by one, Idaho State coach Deane Martin had two choices.
He nearly opted for the first, which in hindsight, would have been the wrong way to go.
Instead, the once-struggling Bengals, who have come on with a rush in recent weeks, did not call time out. Kenny McGowen turned his coach into a genius by burying a 3-point basket from the corner at the buzzer to upset Weber State, 64-62, on Saturday night in Holt Arena.
"Sometimes you have to let players be players and let them make plays," said Martin, ISU's interim coach since the resignation of Joe O'Brien on Dec. 19. "I first yelled I wanted a time out."
Instead of allowing WSU (16-4, 8-1 Big Sky) a chance to set up and maybe force the Bengals into overthinking the situation ISU (7-14, 5-4) hadn't beaten the Wildcats in nearly two years Martin allowed his seniors to make a play for a third consecutive Big Sky Conference victory.
Meanwhile, WSU, which had won 10 in a row, had a chance to build a four-point advantage. Damian Lillard, suffering through one of his worst shooting nights, hit the front of the rim with a 3-point effort, setting up the final ISU flurry.
WSU appeared to have Idaho State's Chase Grabau surrounded with seconds remaining. Grabau found McGowen in the corner.
"That's life on the road," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "We didn't play our best basketball, but we gave ourselves a chance to win the game."
While it is easy to focus on the final few minutes in which the Wildcats fell short, the game could have been decided in the first half. At least, it was a half that gave Idaho State the confidence to play with the conference leaders.
Weber State had all kinds of trouble early with the Bengals' full-court pressure. The Wildcats turned the ball over nine times in the first half, nearly their average for an entire game.
Shooting 31 percent for much of the first half did nothing to help Weber State, either.
Lillard and Scott Bamforth, the Wildcats' top scorers, were a combined 3 for 12 in the opening 20 minutes. Then there were free throws. WSU, the No. 1 team in the nation by percentage from the foul line, missed seven overall and five in the second half.
Storylines Idaho State 64, Weber State 62
R Idaho State ends a seven-game losing streak against Weber State.
• Weber State overcomes a nine-point ISU lead in the second half but gives up the game-winner at the buzzer.
• WSU's Damian Lillard is held to nine points below his scoring average.