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OGDEN — Weber State got beaten by one team last week in Cedar City that it has historically dominated, motivating the Wildcats enough to not want it to happen again.
The Wildcats had won eight consecutive games against the Thunderbirds, but saw that streak end. Thursday, Weber State hosted Portland State, a team it had earned a 21-1 all-time record against at the Dee Events Center.
However, Weber fell to 21-2 at home against Portland State, falling 69-63 to the Vikings. The loss drops Weber to 3-4 in the Big Sky.
Weber coach Randy Rahe said the loss is a result of his team lacking toughness.
“We’re not tough enough,” he said. “We’re not mentally tough enough, we’re not physically tough enough. That goes on me. Our teams around here have always been tough as hell; that’s kind of how we’ve made a living around here. Right now, we’re not tough enough.”
The game did not start with an offensive flourish for either team, as Portland State held a 14-9 lead with nine minutes into the game. Shooting percentages were not friendly to Weber State in the first half, as the Wildcats shot just 28.6 percent from the floor. The Wildcats also made just 4-of-14 3-point shot attempts in the first half, and shot no free throws.
Weber State guard Jeremy Senglin said the first-half start came from a lack of toughness.
“Every half is big,” said Senglin, who scored 21 points. “We dug ourselves a hole, and we did dig out in the second half. That’s a good team, give them credit.”
In comparison, Portland State shot 52 percent, which may explain why the Vikings held a 31-24 halftime lead. The Wildcats haven't won in eight different tries when trailing at halftime.
Portland State opened the second half shooting well, as part of a 50 percent shooting performance on the night. The Wildcats trailed 50-42 with eight minutes left, but came back to take a 53-52 lead with 7:49 left in the half. However, the Vikings kept making miniature runs and getting stops, enough to get a 63-59 lead with 1:37 remaining. Portland State iced the game at the line, making six free throws in the final 97 seconds.
For the second time in conference, Weber dropped consecutive games, bookending a three-game winning streak.
Rahe said the team’s midseason struggles fall squarely on his shoulders.
“That’s on me,” he said. “It’s part of my job as the head coach. I don’t know much, I’m not the best coach in the world. It’s my job to get (toughness) out of them, and I will get it out of them.
"I've got to get (toughness) out of them, and I will get it out of them," said Weber coach Randy Rahe.
“Anything that doesn’t go well in our program, I look at myself, and I look at myself really hard.”
The Wildcats host conference leader Sacramento State Saturday, which is coming off a 62-59 win over Idaho State.
Weber guard Chris Golden said the team has to stay together in the face of this adversity.
“We’ve just got to stay together,” he said. “(We have to) keep working hard in practice, and keep getting tougher every day. It’s not really about being frustrated; we just have to stick together.”
As far as a plan for bouncing back against the Hornets, Rahe said it’s time for his team to mature.
“I’m tired of talking about being young, I’m tired of being young, no more young,” he said. “It’s time to grow up, it’s time to be a man. It’s time to dig in, we’re going to go jump in the foxhole and we’re going to learn how to fight.”