Missoula, Mont. • Scott Bamforth's biggest contribution to Weber State may have had nothing to do with baskets, though the senior did convert a huge 3-pointer down the stretch of a 76-74 Big Sky Conference semifinal tournament win against North Dakota.
"There's a reason why he's a first-team Big Sky," North Dakota coach Brian Jones said afterward.
Despite being favored, the Wildcats (26-5) found themselves trailing 52-40 early in the second half. Montana fans, slowly filtering into Dahlberg Arena, had also taken up the North Dakota cause.
That's when Bamforth made a senior play, a show of leadership that has been a year in the making.
"A lot of teams say they never thought they were going to lose," he said. "But at that point ... everybody on the bench needed to come together. Somebody needed to do that, so I just grabbed everybody and I just felt like [it would] give us some confidence.
"[North Dakota] played well. ... I knew if we could stick together right there and made a push, we'd have a chance."
Bamforth thought correctly.
Bamforth, who missed six consecutive shots, eventually knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer with a tad more than a minute to play. He finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
"We have one rule for Scott, and I told him since he arrived at Weber State: If you don't take the shot when you're open, you're coming out of the game," WSU coach Randy Rahe said.
Bamforth also clamped down on UND's Troy Huff, who scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the first half and forced a turnover that led to the game-winner by Kyle Tresnak.
A hard lesson Weber State learned during last year's tournament is that it takes more than one person to create basketball success. This time, the Wildcats were up to the task.
Their 13th consecutive victory featured 25 points from Davion Berry, a flurry of blocked shots by Joel Bolomboy five in all and positive minutes from James Hajek and Gelaun Wheelwright off the bench.
WSU is one win away from tying the school record for victories as well as its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2007.