College basketball • WSU, SUU combine for 76 free throws.
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Cedar City • Southern Utah needed Jackson Stevenett to keep the Thunderbirds close to Weber State on Thursday night.
Stevenett tied his career high with 29 points but didn't have enough offensive backup.
Meanwhile, four WSU players scored in double digits as the Wildcats escaped the Centrum with a hard-fought 81-74 Big Sky Conference victory.
"That's probably one of the more physical games I've been involved with for quite a long time," WSU coach Randy Rahe said. "We tried to get our guys ready. ... We hit them with pads [in practice]."
WSU and SUU combined to take 76 free throws.
"We just tried to play how we've been playing," said Stevenett, who matched his point total scored earlier this season against Gonzaga. "We feel like we let one slip away.
"We played harder than them."
In a game that featured 10 lead changes and six ties, Weber State (10-3, 5-0 BSC) slowly pulled away late in the second half, thanks in part to its performance at the foul line.
Scott Bamforth and Davion Berry combined to score 36 points 23 from free throws as SUU began fouling with more than three minutes to play.
WSU's final 2-pointer came with 4 minutes, 43 seconds to play when Joel Bolomboy punctuated a Bamforth lob with a thunderous jam.
"I was just trying to get the team going," Bolomboy said. The 6-foot-9 freshman finished with 13 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.
It was Bolomboy who played a key part midway through the game when the Wildcats were struggling to find any consistency against the dogged Thunderbirds (5-9, 3-2).
"He gave us a great spark tonight," Rahe said. "He had a big impact on the game.
Weber State opened a 15-point lead with two minutes to play, thanks in part to SUU's constant fouling to stay close. The Wildcats finished 36 of 49 from the foul line.
The Wildcats became more patient in the second half, which led to a handful of transition baskets. Midway through the second half, Gelaun Wheelwright split the SUU defense on back-to-back possessions to put WSU up by nine.
"The game was decided on transitions," SUU coach Nick Robinson said. "We definitely struggled from the field."
And, as pleased as Robinson was with Stevenett's effort, he also saw trouble.
"It was a great effort," said the first-year head coach. "But basketball is a team game. It's not the Jackson Stevenett show at SUU."
Storylines Weber State wins out
R WSU has four players score in double digits, including Joel Bolomboy, who finishes with 13 points and 17 rebounds.