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Weber State's 2nd half troubles lead to disappointing 67-57 loss to Idaho State

Weber State forward Dillon Jones finishes a layup past Idaho State defenders in a game the Wildcats lost 67-57 on Jan. 7, 2023.

Weber State forward Dillon Jones finishes a layup past Idaho State defenders in a game the Wildcats lost 67-57 on Jan. 7, 2023. (Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics)

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OGDEN — Weber State hoped its slow start to the second half would resolve itself like it did to start the game. The Wildcats came out of the gate slow, but turned it on and led at halftime.

But by the first media timeout of the second half, Idaho State had cut Weber's lead to 1 point and just about everything turned bad for the Wildcats as the Bengals went on to win the game 67-57.

Idaho State was led by 6-foot-8 center Brayden Parker and 6-foot-9 forward Jay Nagle. At halftime, Parker had just 4 points, but the Bengals turned to him in the second half as he handled Weber State's centers with ease and finished with 15 points. Nagle had 5 points at halftime and finished with 12 on the night.

"I thought, defensively, we were actually pretty good most of the night," Weber State head coach Eric Duft said. "Had trouble guarding in the post, which I knew was going to be a problem."

In the first half, the Wildcats limited the Bengals to just 35% shooting from the field and 18% from 3-point range. Weber State didn't shoot much better, but thanks to free throws they went into the locker room with a 32-25 lead.

The second half is where Idaho State made the necessary adjustments and Weber State couldn't figure it out. The Bengals shot 52% from the field, with most of those points coming in the paint. Meanwhile, the Wildcats' offense stalled and struggled to shoot just 32% in the second half.

"I feel like it was more Idaho (State) coming out with more energy," said guard Junior Ballard when talking about what went wrong after halftime. "They're hitting a shot, now they're into it — getting stops here and there. But, like I said, when that happens we have to be able to come together and say, 'Let's go.' Simple as that."

Ballard and Dillon Jones led Weber State with 13 points apiece, followed by Steven Verplancken with 12 points. Throughout the season the Wildcats have relied on their ability to shoot the ball to win games. While the defense has improved drastically, the offense is still hit-or-miss.

Verplancken — the team's leading 3-point shooter who shot better than 45% during the nonconference schedule — is just 1-of-10 from 3-point range in Weber State's first three conference games. He was 0-for-3 from deep in the loss to Idaho State, and the team made just 3-of-19 from behind the arc in this contest.

Weber State also struggled on the boards as Idaho State outrebounded them 35-27 and won the offensive rebound battle 9-5. Many of the Bengals' offensive rebounds came in the remaining minutes of the game as the Wildcats were looking for any way to mount a comeback down by double digits. Idaho State led by as many as 13 points in the second half and ended up winning the game by 10.

"I thought we could have handled the adversity a little better in the second half," Ballard said. "I thought that was a big reason why we fell short. When we get hit in the mouth we have to be able to respond; I don't think we did a good job of that."

Weber State had opportunities throughout the first half to pull away but failed to capitalize — the Wildcats' biggest lead was 9 points but poor shooting limited their ability to increase the lead.

Even when Idaho State had key players on the bench for much of the first half due to foul trouble, Weber State couldn't take advantage of the moment. And with the way the Bengals turned on the energy in the second half, it was a missed opportunity.


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