Missoula, Mont. • Weber State had a reason to feel some concern as it prepared for its Big Sky Conference Tournament opener against Northern Arizona.
Two weeks ago, the Wildcats needed a desperate rally to escape in overtime.
Randy Rahe had no such doubts, especially after the 8 a.m. shootaround.
"I knew we were ready to play," the Weber State coach said moments after his Wildcats steamrolled Northern Arizona 84-58 Thursday afternoon in the Dahlberg Arena.
"I thought our team was really focused today," said Rahe, who saw this effort building the last few days of practice. "It's one step, but our guys played a pretty good basketball game."
On Friday, the Wildcats will play the highest seed remaining from the first day's competition at 5:30 p.m.
"We played a close game two weeks ago. [But] they started off the game with a defensive intensity they had not showed us really in two games against us throughout the season," NAU coach Jack Murphy said. "You can't go five minutes without scoring ... especially against a team like Weber.
"Today was kind of running into a buzz saw with Weber State."
Weber State's smothering defense, keyed by Scott Bamforth, took away the Lumberjacks' outside game, including BSC leading scorer Gabe Rogers, who finished with 12 points. His teammate DeWayne Russell managed 21 points, eight of those at the foul line late in the game.
Stallon Saldivar, a native of Salt Lake City, finished his NAU career with nine points.
It took nearly five minutes for the Lumberjacks to score their first points.
"Their plan was not to let Gabe Rogers beat us," Rogers said.
The Wildcats scored 15 second-chance points as well as 21 off of 17 NAU turnovers. When WSU (25-5) wasn't creating offense with its defense, it went to its bread-and-butter inside game.
Kyle Tresnak and Frank Otis carved out space inside. And when NAU's defense collapsed, the Wildcats, using quick ball movement, found the open outside shooter.
Otis and Tresnak combined for 28 points and 12 rebounds. In all, nearly half 38 points came in the paint for WSU.
"Me and Tres just tried to stay aggressive," Otis said.
The Weber State basic game plan remained inside out.
"We wanted to get the ball inside," said WSU forward Davion Berry, who finished with six assists to go with 13 points. "I feel like nobody can guard them in the conference, so we just try to take it at them every game."
Weber State didn't burn up the nets from long range, but did enough to keep NAU (11-21) honest on defense.
Meanwhile, WSU owned the boards, outrebounding NAU 36-27. The Wildcats had three players with six rebounds, while Bamforth grabbed five to go with 12 points.
Despite the easy first step, Rahe was not looking ahead to Saturday's final on ESPNU at 7 p.m.
"All I know is we got to play tomorrow night," Rahe said. "Three games in three nights? I don't know anything about that. Nothing matters except getting ready for the next one."
R Weber State pounds the ball inside, scoring 38 points in the paint, 28 combined by Frank Otis and Kyle Tresnak.
• Weber State defense holds Northern Arizona without a point for the first five minutes.
• WSU wins its 12th consecutive game with the help of 23 bench points.
North Dakota vs. Weber State
P At Dahlberg Arena (Missoula, Mont.)
Tipoff • Friday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • None
Radio • 1280 AM
Records • UND 16-15; WSU 25-5
Series history • WSU leads 2-0
Last meeting • WSU 66, UND 51 (Jan. 31)
About the UND • North Dakota advances to the BSC semifinals with a 69-52 win against Southern Utah. ... Guards Troy Huff and Aaron Anderson lead UND with nearly 33 points a game. ... UND held SUU to 29 percent shooting.
About the Wildcats • WSU is on a 12-game winning streak, thanks to an 84-58 victory against Northern Arizona in the tournament opener. ... Scott Bamforth and Davion Berry were selected to the All-Big Sky Conference First Team. ... Kyle Tresnak and Frank Otis were a combined 12 of 17 against NAU.
Weber St. 84,N. Arizona 58
N. ARIZONA (11-21) • Bewernick 3-5 0-0 6, Jacobsen 1-6 0-2 2, Rogers 5-16 0-0 12, Russell 6-13 8-9 21, Saldivar 2-4 5-5 9, Hamilton 0-1 0-0 0, Dunn 2-6 1-2 6, Heine 0-0 0-0 0, Flores 0-2 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Ekanem 1-1 0-2 2. Totals 20-54 14-20 58.
WEBER ST. (25-5) • Otis 7-10 2-2 16, Berry 2-6 8-8 13, Tresnak 5-7 2-4 12, Bamforth 4-9 3-4 12, Richardson 3-7 0-0 8, Wheelwright 2-5 1-2 5, Bradford 0-0 0-0 0, Bolomboy 4-5 1-1 9, Fulton 1-2 0-0 3, Williams 2-5 0-0 4, Hajek 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 30-56 19-23 84.
HalftimeWeber St. 36-21. 3-Point GoalsN. Arizona 4-16 (Rogers 2-5, Russell 1-3, Dunn 1-3, Hamilton 0-1, Flores 0-2, Saldivar 0-2), Weber St. 5-16 (Richardson 2-5, Fulton 1-2, Berry 1-2, Bamforth 1-4, Williams 0-1, Wheelwright 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsN. Arizona 27 (Bewernick 8), Weber St. 36 (Berry, Otis, Tresnak 6). AssistsN. Arizona 7 (Dunn, Rogers 2), Weber St. 15 (Berry 6). Total FoulsN. Arizona 17, Weber St. 16. ANA.