Weber State and Idaho overcame some major personnel problems to notch convincing first-round victories and advance to tonight's semifinals in the Big Sky Conference tournament.
Weber State (16-12) dominated Idaho State (9-21) Thursday night 92-74, followed by Idaho's 75-56 win over Boise State (16-13) in which the Vandals (18-13) excelled from the free throw line.Weber State meets Nevada (18-9) in the first semifinal tonight at 6:30. The game will be televised live on KXIV-TV (Channel 14). Then Idaho challenges regular-season league champion Montana (25-3), which won the post-season tourney last year.
Nevada and Montana got first-round byes in the six-team tourney.
Weber State played without three suspended players who had a combined average of 28 points per game. And Idaho won its first-round game despite playing much of the contest without the league's leading scorer, 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Orlando Lightfoot, who got into early foul trouble.
"I was pleased with the way our players responded," said Weber State coach Ron Abegglen. "We really didn't know who we were going to start until five o'clock this afternoon."
All five Weber State starters finished the game in double figures, led by Al Hamilton with 23 points.
The Wildcats will have the services of their second-leading scorer, Anthony Steward (12.9 points per game), and David Baldwin (11 points) tonight when they play Nevada.
The two, plus reserve Mike Sivulich, were suspended for one game after a brawl in the Weber State-Idaho State contest last Saturday in Pocatello, Idaho.
"We missed Steward's three-point shooting," Abegglen said. "That would have opened it up inside for Al (Hamilton) and Anthony (McGowan)."
McGowan scored 17 points on seven of eight shooting without much outside shooting by the Wildcats. Weber State was just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.
Jason Joe added 14 points, Elroy Miller 13 and Robbie Johnson 10.
For Idaho State, Tyron Buckmon hit 20 points and Herman Smith 17.
The Wildcats held a 47-27 halftime lead, and Idaho State couldn't get its offense untracked.
Idaho State assistant coach Don EvansEvans and two other assistants were in charge of the Bengals because head coach Herb Williams also wasn't allowed to be on the sidelines Thursday.
In the second game, Lightfoot didn't see much action.
He had three fouls and was taken out of the game with seven minutes to play in the first half.
Lightfoot fouled out with 9:46 to play, with just six points, well short of his league-leading average of 22.8 points per game.
Idaho got 23 points from Andre Whitney, 21 from Deon Watson and 15 from Marvin Ricks.
Tanoka Beard scored 21 points for Boise State and Michael Trotter 14.