Weber State basketball: Damian Lillard scores 40 as Wildcats cruise past Portland State
Ogden • Damian Lillard did not exactly explode for his 40 points Thursday night.
Lillard, who became the second player in Weber State history to hang 40 or more on an opponent twice in one season, didn't dominate in any one portion of the game. He didn't fire shot after shot during Weber State's 92-79 defeat of visiting Portland State.
The Wildcats' talented guard didn't storm on the Vikings. Instead, Lillard was a steady rain from the first minute to the last, always in the flow of the offense and only shooting when open or driving an open lane to the basket, much to the delight of 6,285 fans inside the Dee Events Center.
Lillard also finished with five of WSU's 18 assists.
"It's just fun," said Weber State guard Scott Bamforth, who also played well with 16 points and seven assists, and had the perfect vantage point to enjoy Lillard's performance. "He just makes plays. It's fun because you like seeing the hard work he puts in and how it translates on the court.
"The last game he was mad because he didn't play too well. He didn't say anything, but I could see it. You could see it in his eyes."
Whether it was the intense scrutiny from the swarm of NBA scouts sitting courtside or the unceasing attention from media, the Weber State guard's game had not been what it was.
The five previous games, Lillard, who continues to lead the nation with a 25.1 scoring average, had connected on just 36 percent of his shots. The low came Saturday as he scored 15 points as WSU (17-4, 9-1 Big Sky) endured a last-second loss to Idaho State.
"He just looked a little worn down," said Weber State coach Randy Rahe, who had a heart-to-heart with Lillard on Sunday. "Everybody wants a piece of him. â¦ We got a shovel and got rid of all the stuff that didn't matter."
The result was evident from the opening moments. Lillard was confident and knocking down everything, missing just two of his first 14 attempts. Lillard finished 13 of 18, including 6 of 8 from the 3-point line.
Of course, it didn't hurt that Portland State (10-12, 4-6) was in town. Lillard burned the Vikings for 38 early in January, giving the junior 78 total points for the two games.
His other game of 40-plus points came in a 91-89 double-overtime victory against San Jose State on Dec. 3, when he totaled 41.
"That [ISU] loss hurt real bad," Lillard said. "We all sat in the locker room and everybody was kind of in disbelief because it hurt. The very next day we made up our minds we were going to come out and be more focused.
"Our minds â¦ that's where it began, our minds."
Portland State managed to stay within hailing distance much of the game with 3-point shooting and rebounding. But there was too much Lillard and too much Weber State team play. In addition, the Wildcats were 15 of 28 shooting the 3-pointer.
"We just wanted to get back to what we were doing during our [10-game] winning streak," Lillard said. "I just had to get back to the gym."
R Damian Lillard becomes second Weber State player to score 40 or more points twice in one season.
• Weber State scores 17 points off of 12 Portland State turnovers.
• Lillard is 13 of 18 from the field, and 6 of 8 from the 3-point line.