If Ron Abegglen had been told before the season began that Weber State would be 5-1 after six Big Sky games, he would have been jumping for joy.
If that fortune teller had told him how the Wildcats would get there, he might have been a little less happy - but happy nonetheless as Weber State improved to 7-9 overall with a 70-69 nailbiter over Cal-State Northridge Saturday night."We were very fortunate to win today," Abegglen said. "This was one of those where you're glad it is over with and you're ahead."
The narrow win marked the fourth time during Weber's five-game winning streak that the margin of victory was fewer than 10 points. Coming fewer than 24 hours after the Cats finished playing a late-night contest against Northern Arizona, Abegglen was thrilled.
"I'm really proud of the guys for hanging in there," Abegglen said. "All I know right now is that it's a `W.' "
Considering some of the game's developments, hanging in there was a very apt description of the Wildcats' win.
Weber's two best forwards, Eric Ketchum and Jake Shoff, were sitting on the bench with five fouls with more than eight minutes to play.
"That was spooky," said center Andy Jensen, who held down the fort almost all by his lonesome. "But you've got to give all the credit to Ryan Jama."
Jama, a 6-foot-5 sophomore who has seen limited action this season, played the role of power forward well down the stretch as he kept the Matadors' post players from taking control.
"I knew I had to go in there and play hard," Jama said. "I had to body up and try to force them to shoot instead of letting them move with it."
That plan worked well, as Northridge managed only two field goals over the final eight minutes.
James Smith led the Wildcats with 20 points and made two huge steals in the final two minutes to make sure the Wildcats didn't let first place in the Big Sky slip away. Jensen, playing 38 minutes, chipped in 13 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.
The Matadors, after falling behind 49-39 early in the second half, switched defenses and the Wildcat offense fell apart. Seven minutes passed between Wildcat points and the 10-point lead vanished as Northridge used a 12-0 run to grab control of the game.