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Weber State basketball: Senglin's slump-busting night earns Wildcats a first-round bye

Published March 7, 2017 4:30 pm

Big Sky men's basketball • Weber State will draw either Montana State or Southern Utah in the quarterfinals.
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Most Valuable Player status at last year's Big Sky men's basketball tournament should have been enough of a confidence booster for Weber State senior Jeremy Senglin as this year's conference tournament started to come into focus.

But Senglin, right about when he became the conference's all-time record holder for 3-point baskets three weeks ago, started to struggle.

And with him, the entire Wildcats' team also had a downturn and went into a four-game tailspin.

Winning, however, sure can be an effective salve for what ails you.

On the final day of the regular season, Weber State beat Montana State to clinch third in conference and Senglin seemed to set himself straight with 22 points and 3-for-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Wildcats (17-12, 12-6) open Big Sky tournament play on Thursday at 8:05 p.m., taking on either Montana State or Southern Utah in the quarterfinals.

"Damian [Lillard] even reached out, Joel [Bolomboy], people in the past that played here," Senglin said. "The Weber State family is big and everybody stayed positive."

Over the seven games leading up to the Saturday win over the Bobcats, Senglin connected on just 17 of his 59 long-range attempts. But the point was moot with his teammates.

"They didn't even mention it. I was thinking about it myself, but they just said, 'Keep shooting,' " Senglin said. "That's what you need to do when you're into a slump; you're not going to get out of it if you don't."

North Dakota ended with the top seed in this year's tourney while Eastern Washington is the second-seeded team. Weber State ended up tied with Idaho at third, but got the higher seed due to a tiebreaker.

Meanwhile, Southern Utah (5-26) is on its own four-game losing slide after dropping home games to Eastern Washington and Idaho to finish the regular season.

The Thunderbirds, led by junior guards Randy Onwuasor (22.8 points, 6.6 rebounds per game) and James McGee (13.9 ppg), might be somewhat heartened by staying close to Montana State in the teams' last meeting — an 83-78 win by the Bobcats in Cedar City on Feb. 11.

"We're prepared for it even though we had rough conference [play]. We're ready. Everyone is going in 0-0," Southern Utah senior forward Will Joyce said following a season-ending loss to Idaho on Saturday. "Records don't matter anymore."

If the T-Birds are unable to register the upset, it'll be Montana State for a third time this season for Weber State — and the Wildcats' opponent for two straight games.

On Saturday, Bobcats' sophomore Tyler Hall was held to 11 points by Weber defenders. That was less than half of Hall's scoring average of 23.2 heading into the game — and that was encouraging to Weber State coach Randy Rahe.

Wildcats guard Ryan Richardson "did a great job. He's just disciplined and makes him work — and Ryan likes to guard him," Rahe said. "He had some other guys on him too. We had Cody [John] on him at times, we had Jeremy on him.

"Guys were asking for him. That's what I liked. I challenged our guys about a week ago and said, 'When's the last time somebody asked me to go guard the best player?' the Wildcat coach added. "He's a really good player and hard to guard, boy. I think he's an eventual pro by the time he leaves." —

Big Sky men's tournament schedule

At Reno, Nev.; All times MST

Tuesday's games

• No. 8 Portland State vs. No. 9 Northern Arizona, 2:35 p.m.

• No. 7 Sacramento State vs. No. 10 Idaho State, 5:35 p.m.

• No. 6 Montana State vs. No. 11 Southern Utah, 8:05 p.m.

Thursday's games


• No. 1 North Dakota vs. Portland State-Northern Arizona winner, 12:05 p.m.

• No. 4 Idaho vs. No. 5 Montana, 2:35 p.m.

• No. 2 Eastern Washington vs. Sacramento State-Idaho State winner, 5:35 p.m.

• No. 3 Weber State vs. Montana State-Southern Utah winner, 8:05 p.m.






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