OGDEN - Weber State's season ended with a heartbreaking 77-74 loss to East Carolina in the championship game Tuesday night at the Dee Events Center.
With the game tied 74-74 East Carolina's Akeem Richmond knocked down a long three-pointer as time expired to give the Pirates the CIT title. East Carolina ends its season 23-12.
Weber State led by seven at 24-17 midway through the first half when the Pirates responded with a 21-7 run over the next six minutes and took a 38-31 lead. ECU led 42-35 at halftime and the Pirates shot 60 percent from the field in the first half.
The Wildcats got going after the break and started the half on an 11-2 run and led by two points early in the half. With WSU leading 48-46 with 15:00 to play the Pirates went on a 13-4 run and held a seven point lead with nine minutes remaining. With ECU on top by seven again with 8:22 to play Weber State came back with a 10-0 run over the next two and a half minutes and led by three with 5:44 to play.
Weber State led by six points with 2:55 to play when East Carolina rattled off a 7-1 run and tied the game at 72-72 with 1:19 to play. A dunk by Robert Sampson gave the Pirates a lead at 74-73 with 38 seconds left. Davion Berry made one of two free throws to tie the game at 74-74 with 21 seconds left before Richmond knocked down the game-winning three-pointer.
The Wildcats shot just 9-19 from the free throw line for the game for 47 percent shooting and were 3-9 from the line in the last three minutes of play.
For the game East Carolina shot 58.8 percent from the field, the best shooting percentage against Weber State all season. Weber State shot 52.7 percent but did outrebounded the Pirates 30-25.
"There were two good basketball teams out there tonight," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. "We didn't guard very well in the first half but we put ourselves in position in the second half. We didn't knock down the free throws when we needed but I was really proud of our team. We fought really hard and we've had a terrific season. We lost to a really good basketball team that is well coached and played a terrific game. We were just one play away and they made a great shot at the end."
Four Wildcats scored in double figures led by senior Scott Bamforth who finished with 19 points on 7-13 shooting. He was 4-8 from the three-point line in his final game of his career. Bamforth finished his career as WSU's leader in career three-pointers and 11th in career scoring.
"It hurts to know that we put ourselves in a position to win we just didn't finish it, so it's very disappointing," Bamforth said. "We had such great support from our fans tonight and it's disappointing we couldn't win it for all the people that have supported us. The missed free throws certainly hurt us. We had a terrific season we just came up a game short."
I was really proud of our team. We fought really hard and we've had a terrific season. We lost to a really good basketball team that is well coached and played a terrific game. We were just one play away and they made a great shot at the end.
Frank Otis added 16 points and eight rebounds on 8-12 shooting and Davion Berry added 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Kyle Tresnak had 10 points and seven rebounds. Bamforth, Otis and Tresnak were all named to the CIT All-Tournament Team.
Weber State ends an historic season with a 30-7 overall record. The Wildcats became the first team in Big Sky history to win 30 games and to play in the championship game of a postseason tournament. The ‘Cats were 18-2 in Big Sky play.
"I've loved coaching this team," Rahe added. "I've had as much fun coaching this team as any I've been around. They accomplished an awful lot and have had a terrific record breaking season. Winning 30 games is a tremendous accomplishment. We wanted the final prize and we didn't get it but down the line they will look back at this season with satisfaction."