Weber State basketball: Wildcats fall at buzzer in CIT finale
Ogden • Weber State created plenty of team and individual highlights in 2013.
Yet, it will be the two games that got away which will stick as a painful remainder of what might have been. The first loss, for the Big Sky Conference championship, sent WSU to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Tuesday's 77-74 loss to East Carolina (23-12) was the second. And this defeat came with a suddenness of lightning. Only minutes earlier, victory appeared clear cut and the CIT trophy destined to reside in the Dee Events Center.
At least the boisterous 10,583 spectators thought so.
With the game tied, regulation ticking to the final second and both teams scrambling, East Carolina guard Akeem Richmond raised and fired a 25-foot shot that snapped the net with no time remaining.
"I remained patient and shot the ball with a lot of confidence," Richmond said. "I knew it was good when it left my hand."
Weber State players stood around, looking as if someone would wake them from a nightmare.
"It hurts," Weber State (30-7) guard Scott Bamforth said more than once. "It's definitely [hard to swallow]. â¦ We didn't accomplish both our goals this season.
"It hurts to know you put yourself in position and didn't finish it."
Weber State's failure at the foul line is what hurt the most. One of the best free-throw-shooting teams in the nation botched the game at the line, missing 10 of 19 attempts.
Weber State, 3 of 9 from the foul line in the last few minutes, will know it should never have come down to a buzzer-beater.
"We put ourselves in position," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "You've got to take the freebies when you get them."
With 2 minutes, 55 seconds to play, the Wildcats completed a 17-4 run, the final run in a game of runs or so they thought.
Kyle Tresnak keyed the Weber State surge with back-to-back dunks. He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, but missed 5 of 7 foul shots. Bamforth led the Wildcats with 19 points, while Frank Otis and Davion Berry had 16 each.
As Weber State allowed East Carolina back into game, the Pirates were aided by a non-call on what appeared to be offensive goaltending. But it was the free throws that hurt the most.
"We were fortunate in some ways," ECU coach Jeff Lebo said. "We were aided by missed foul shots. â¦ This is not an easy place to play. We found a way to get a W."
The Wildcats could never really slow guard Miguel Paul, who scored a game-high 23. Teammate Maurice Kemp added 20 in the paint as the Pirates shot 59 percent.
Weber State and East Carolina each played four home games during the five-game tournament run. It appeared the Wildcats would have the key home game and on national television, to boot.
East Carolina overcame a packed arena and altitude.
"That's what's most disappointing," Bamforth said. "We had so many people come out and support us."
East Carolina 77,Weber State 74
O East Carolina's Akeem Richmond buries a 25-foot 3-point basket at the buzzer.
• Weber State owns a 71-65 lead with 2:55 to play, but misses six foul shots down the stretch.
• East Carolina shoots 59 percent for the game.
East Carolina 77, Weber State 74
EAST CAROLINA (23-12) • Paul 8-15 5-6 23, Kemp 7-12 5-5 20, Armstrong 5-8 0-0 10, Sampson 5-6 1-3 12, Roberts-Campbell 1-2 0-0 2, Richmond 2-6 0-0 6, Williams 2-2 0-0 4, Zangari 0-0 0-0 0. Totals • 30-51 11-14 77.
WEBER ST. (30-7) • Bamforth 7-13 1-2 19, Richardson 2-5 0-0 5, Otis 8-12 0-2 16, Berry 5-10 4-6 16, Tresnak 4-8 2-7 10, Wheelwright 2-5 0-0 4, Bolomboy 1-2 2-2 4, Hajek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals • 29-55 9-19 74.
HalftimeEast Carolina 42-35. 3-Point GoalsEast Carolina 6-16 (Richmond 2-5, Paul 2-6, Kemp 1-2, Sampson 1-2, Roberts-Campbell 0-1), Weber St. 7-17 (Bamforth 4-8, Berry 2-4, Richardson 1-3, Wheelwright 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsEast Carolina 25 (Sampson 8), Weber St. 30 (Otis 8). AssistsEast Carolina 11 (Paul 6), Weber St. 19 (Berry 6). Total FoulsEast Carolina 16, Weber St. 13. A10,583.