Ogden • To reach the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the Wildcats had to flex a little late defensive muscle.
With less than seven minutes to play, Oral Roberts had made a move to close within two points. The 6,638 fans in the Dee Events Center rustled nervously each time Golden Eagles forward Shawn Glover slithered through the Wildcat defense.
Then, before there was even time to fully digest what had happened, Weber State's defense fueled a mini-run. Behind a career night by Davion Berry, the Wildcats earned a tough-fought 83-74 victory Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (29-6) will travel to Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference for a semifinal game. Should Weber State win, it will host the championship April 2.
"We're really excited to go play," said Weber State coach Randy Rahe. "We get to play a high-quality team on their court. A Missouri Valley team on their court. It's a great opportunity. We're going to go take a swing and see what happens."
What happened Wednesday night was a contest of wills. Oral Roberts was determined to clog Weber State's offensive flow. The Eagles did that with a scrambling defense that focused on doubling the Wildcats' potent inside attack.
Oral Roberts also received great individual offensive efforts by Glover, Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles, who combined for 56 points. This, in turn, didn't allow Weber State to score in transition.
Then everything changed.
"We got tougher," said Berry, who broke out of a scoring slump with a career-high 27 points. He also added a career-high 10 assists. "We didn't back down. We've been in that position a lot this season."
Two Niles free throws pulled ORU to within 61-59. Then WSU's defense enforced its will. A Berry steal led to a Scott Bamforth 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run. Bamforth finished with 18 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while center Kyle Tresnak, battling Bell-Holter all night, added 19 points and eight rebounds.
"Scott's 3 was huge when they were making a run, to kind of jump-start us," Rahe said. "Once we hit that 3, our energy went up and we got a couple stops and were able to get away from them a little bit."
Weber State eventually opened a 13-point lead with two minutes to play and coasted, all the way to Cedar Falls, Iowa.