Missoula, Mont. • Weber State coach Randy Rahe’s nightmares must be tinged with maroon.
For the fourth consecutive season, it was Montana to show Weber State the door in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, three times in the championship game.
Saturday’s 67-64 loss in Dahlberg Arena was WSU’s sixth straight in Missoula, a place where the Grizzlies have won 31 league games in a row.
Even going 18-2 during the regular season wasn’t good enough for the Wildcats. Montana went 19-1, despite losing leader Will Cherry for a month.
Now, all that’s left for Weber State is the NIT or the CIT. Rahe believes his Wildcats (26-6) deserve an NIT berth.
"I don’t think there’s any doubt about that," he said. "We’d won 13 in row, 18-2 in league.
"It’s not in our hands, but we deserve to be there. We’ve proven we can play with a lot of teams in this country."
Weber State demolished the Grizzlies in Ogden this season, 87-63. The Wildcats lost two in Missoula by a combined five points.
The Wildcats had few answers for Kareem Jamar and especially Cherry, who hit shot after shot when Montana needed it. Rahe professed nothing but respect for Cherry after the game, but will be most delighted to finally have the senior out of the league.
"I felt like we were the better team," a despondent WSU forward Frank Otis said. "They couldn’t handle us in or outside. They ended up getting it done. That’s all I can say."
Weber State stayed close with rebounding and its post play. But that’s also where the game was lost late when the Wildcats failed to convert down the stretch.
"We came up short again," said Rahe, who hasn’t taken WSU to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. "We’re going to get it done. We’re going to knock the door down, it’s going to come. Sometimes you have to face a little adversity before it happens."
Or a lot of Montana.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.