Weber State hoops: Wildcats beat Southern Utah 75-55
Cedar City • Weber State's first game of the season against Southern Utah wasn't decided until the final minutes.
The rematch wasn't nearly as suspenseful.
Davion Berry scored 23 points and the Wildcats rolled to a 75-55 victory over the Thunderbirds on Thursday night at the Centrum.
On Jan. 5 in Ogden, Weber State escaped with a 65-59 win over Southern Utah, which probably deserved a better fate.
"They basically kicked our [butt] up there," Wildcat coach Randy Rahe said. "We weren't very good defensively and they were tougher than us. But we were at home and found a way to win. That was the only reason."
Rahe mentioned the performance to his players prior to the return engagement.
"We challenged them," he said. "I told them, 'Now we're coming to their place and we better turn the tables on them.' "
Berry and his teammates were listening.
"Last time they took it to us," he said. "We weren't physical. We backed down from the challenge. We wanted to be get after it tonight, especially on the defensive end.
Weber State dominated the first half, when it shot 62 percent from the field and built a 38-22 lead.
During an efficient eight-minute stretch, the Wildcats converted 10 of their 12 possessions and outscored the Thunderbirds, 25-11.
"The biggest thing I liked was our energy and intensity our defensive intensity," Rahe said.
"I thought our guys looked fresh. We gave them two days off last week and maybe it paid off tonight because we had good energy and good intensity. When you have that, you get stops."
In the opening four minutes of the second half, Southern Utah charged back into the game.
A.J. Hess buried a pair of 3-point shots and Jaren Jeffery's basket capped a 14-4 run that narrowed Weber State's lead to 42-36.
It was still 50-42 with 10:22 remaining when Berry stepped up. He hit 3-point shots on consecutive possessions and bumped the Wildcats' lead back to 56-40.
Southern Utah never threatened again.
"We knew they would make a run," Berry said. "At the same time, our turnovers let them make a run."
With the win, Weber State improved to 14-7 overall and a league-leading 11-2 in the Big Sky Conference.
Southern Utah, which got 11 points from Jeffery, fell to 1-21 on the season and 0-13 in the Big Sky.