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Weber State basketball: Top-seeded Wildcats hope to rule Big Sky tournament

Published March 12, 2014 3:05 pm

Wildcats' coach says league's parity makes tourney wide open.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ogden • If the regular season is an indication, the most wide-open Big Sky tournament in years opens Thursday at the Dee Events Center.

Host Weber State is the top seed after finishing 16-11 overall and 14-6 in the conference, but coach Randy Rahe isn't sure that means much.

"There's as much parity in our league as I've ever seen," he said. "There's not a lot of difference between the teams that are here and some of the teams that didn't make it — the Idaho States, the Montana States and the Eastern Washingtons."

As the regular-season champion, Weber State draws a bye into Friday night's semifinals.

In the opening round, No. 2 North Dakota faces No. 7 Sacramento State, No. 3 Northern Arizona plays No. 6 Northern Colorado and No. 4 Montana battles No. 5 Portland State.

In the Big Sky regular-season race, only two games separated second and eighth place.

"Everybody has good players and everybody seems to be playing well," Rahe said. "I expect every game to be a tough, close game. It should be exciting."

In eight seasons under Rahe, Weber State is 63-5 in Big Sky non-tournament home games. The Wildcats have lost to only one league opponent in the last three years. Northern Arizona scored a 73-71 overtime victory two weeks ago.

The loss could have cost Weber its regular-season title and No. 1 seed but, last Saturday, the 'Cats held off a late Eastern Washington rally and prevailed, 82-78.

"We played pretty good," Rahe said. "… I was really pleased with the way we defended. We got a little screwed up at the end of the game because of their pressure but, overall, it was a nice little confidence boost for us."

If Weber State hopes to reach its 15th NCAA Tournament in school history — but the first since 2007 — Big Sky MVP Davion Berry will likely lead the way.

He averages 19.3 points per game, although Rahe cautions that the Wildcats can't be a one-man show.

"In tournaments," he said, "you better have four or five guys play well. I don't think one guy will win a tournament. Of course we needed Dav to play well and be the stat-stuffer he's been all year. But to win a tournament, you need everybody doing their part." —

Big Sky Tournament

Thursday

2 p.m. • No. 2 North Dakota vs. No. 7 Sacramento State

4:30 p.m. • No. 3 Northern Arizona vs. No. 6 Northern Colorado

7 p.m. • No. 4 Montana vs. No. 5 Portland State

Friday

4:30 p.m. • Highest remaining seed vs. second-highest remaining seed

7 p.m. • No. 1 Weber State vs. lowest remaining seed

Saturday

6 p.m. • Championship game