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Refocused, energized Wildcats 'have fun' at Thunderbirds' expense in blowout


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OGDEN — Some games go down to the final minutes. Others are all but over in the opening minutes.

In Saturday night’s matchup between in-state foes Weber State and Southern Utah, the latter was more applicable as the Wildcats came flying out the gate and coasted to a 77-50 win at the Dee Events Center.

While the second half proved to be more even between the two schools, the game’s final outcome was easily predictable early in the game as Weber State dominated the first half and led 45-16 at the break.

It was clear that the Wildcats were the better team from the beginning as they began the game with an 8-0 run and continued with that pace for the first half. In addition to their initial run, they added a 9-0 run shortly afterward and a 12-2 run to end the half.

“We got off to a great start tonight and I thought our defense was outstanding in the first half,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “The energy and aggressiveness are what we were looking for.”

Weber State improved to 15-6 on the season and 7-1 in the Big Sky with the win while Southern Utah dropped to 4-15 overall and 2-7 in league play.

After losing to Idaho State on Jan. 23 and struggling in their win against Northern Arizona on Thursday, the Wildcats were looking to come out hot and have some fun against the Thunderbirds.

“I said ‘We need to go and act like we're having fun,’ and we actually had fun,” Rahe said. “I want them to enjoy the game. I want them to enjoy college basketball.”

“We had got really serious,” Weber State’s Ryan Richardson said. “So we were like: ‘Let’s just go out and have fun today.’ So we went out and did that.”

Richardson led Weber State with 17 points in 21 minutes of play, including 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, while Juwan Williams added 13 more points off the bench in one of his most productive nights of the year.

Williams, who hasn’t played in the last four games, played 20 minutes on Saturday night, his second most of the year, and provided a huge spark for the Wildcats.

“The thing that was best about Juwan is that he hadn’t played for a while and it looked like he hasn’t missed a beat,” Rahe said. “He played confident, he played aggressive.”

Aiding Richardson and Williams was star forward Joel Bolomboy, who scored 12 points and grabbed an impressive 16 rebounds to record yet another double-double. The senior also provided a lot of energy for his team with a couple huge blocks in the first half.

Casey Oliverson led Southern Utah in its poor night offensively with 10 points. The Thunderbirds shot 31 percent from the field Saturday night and struggled throughout the game to get good looks at the basket.

Game notes: With Saturday night’s win, Weber State earned its first victory against an in-state opponent this season to get to 1-3 on the year against Utah schools. … Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy is tied with New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam for first in the nation in double-doubles with 19.