Twenty-four hours after being outscored 30-0 in a 12-minute stretch by the Aggies at Utah State, Weber State performed a major about-face.
The Wildcats made their first 10 field goals, went 17 points without a miss to open the game, outscored University of North Texas 16-0 to take the score from a 7-4 deficit to a 20-7 lead, had the second-best field-goal shooting night (67.3 percent) in Dee Center history and took a 96-69 win over the Eagles Thursday.Mike Ostlund led the Wildcats with 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field, 4-for-5 from three-point range.
North Texas got into the record act, too, with freshman Ray Schufford setting a DEC mark for three-point shots attempted with 16 while UNT tied the arena record for threes tried with 38. Schufford made four and the team 13. Schufford tied Ostlund with 18 points.
Weber started the second half almost as well as it had the first, making 13 of its first 17 field-goal attempts.
Weber's Denny Huston said "We overcoached" the night before. Thursday, he just said, "Play basketball."
"To have a turnaround like that is what it's all about," Huston said. "They could have died on the vine." He admitted he'd been concerned about that.
Several factors combined to give Weber a good start.
North Texas was one. "Very much so," said Huston. An all-underclass team that's been on the road and hasn't won yet, the Mean Green is 0-10 now.
Another factor was the officiating. "We take for granted the calls here," said Huston. "They're completely different on the road."
Eagle Coach Jimmy Gales, who took his team to the NCAA tournament two years ago and won his conference two years in a row, was more blunt. "This was the worst officiating we've had all year. They took us out of the game," he said, sounding more resigned than angered.
The Eagles shot eight free throws in the game, Weber 34. Fouls, 24-13. And Weber's a physical team, Gales said.
"That's not taking anything away from their team," Gales was quick to add. "The first half, they could have beaten the Celtics."
Another part of Weber's perfect beginning was that North Texas opened with a full-court zone press. Weber handled it for open shots that got the percentage pumping. "Yeah, it did," Huston said.
Weber's first field-goal miss happened at about the 10:50 mark; Aaron Bell followed up his shot for a rebound basket at 10:55. The 'Cats missed eight of their next 10, then finished the half with three makes and a 43-31 lead.
The Eagles' first basket of the game was a three-pointer, and they took 13 more in the first half, then took 25 trying to catch up in the second half. "We don't usually shoot that many," said Gales, "but when we got out of the game, we tried to catch up too fast."
Schufford does take that many. He had 38 coming in. "I shoot three-pointers a lot," he said, and the score made no difference to his range. Schufford, who cast up shots every time he was open, has a National Honor Society pedigree and nearly attended Weber. If Huston had visited him on early signing day, Schufford said he'd have been a 'Cat.
"We worked very hard to recruit him," Huston said.
Weber's Jerry McIntosh led rebounders with 11. Ronnie Morgan, a top Eagle player in his second game back after blood-pressure ills, contributed 10 rebounds but had only two points after getting 15 in his first game.