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OGDEN — The final score showed an impressive 16-point win for Weber State over Portland State, but even that margin doesn't fully depict the dominance the Wildcats showed on their home floor in what was the team's most complete game of the year.
The Vikings (8-11, 2-4 Big Sky) won the opening tipoff and the free-throw battle, but that was about it on Thursday night. The Wildcats (9-10, 4-2 Big Sky) flexed their muscles in a way they had yet to do all season and won 84-68.
Sophomore forward Dillon Jones did what he's done all year, but kicked it into another gear as he came two assists shy of Weber State's first triple-double in nearly 23 years. Jones finished with 17 points, and led all players with 14 rebounds and eight assists in just 29 minutes of playing time.
Weber State head coach Eric Duft subbed Jones out with a little more than seven minutes left to go in the game and the Wildcats holding onlo a 28-point lead. He said he didn't know Jones was close to a triple-double when he pulled him from the game.
"I didn't see the stats," Duft said. "I probably should have had him in there, but he played awfully good."
The 6-foot-6 forward often leads the team in multiple statistical categories, including assists, and is the team's primary playmaker when he's on the court. He came into the contest averaging 3.8 assists per game, but when his teammates make shots like they were against the Vikings, it's not hard to reach the numbers he did.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 57% from the field and 56% from the 3-point line.
At the start of the game, four different players recorded a bucket as Weber State jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead. By the end of the game, four out of the five starters scored in double figures. The team was led by Steven Verplancken's game-high 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.
For a team that's built on — and takes pride in — its defense, the offensive outpouring was a welcome sign for the Wildcats, who haven't always been consistent in their scoring, especially in conference play. The Wildcats put up a season-high 51 points in the first half on 64% shooting from the field and 60% from behind the 3-point line. The team also had 11 assists on 18 made baskets.
"You've just gotta stay consistent with your foundation," Jones said. "You're gonna miss and make shots; it's a miss or make game, it's just that simple. ... But you gotta keep that same foundation and that same confidence knowing that if you miss it, it must be because you're gonna make some later."
The Vikings didn't have much of an answer for anything the Wildcats did offensively on Thursday.
Weber State found success inside and out with center Alex Tew, who has developed throughout the year and turned into a formidable presence in the paint. A big dunk from the big man has become a common occurrence in the Wildcats' game highlights, in addition to his improved post play.
On the defensive side of the ball, Weber State did what it does best: limit 3-point shooters and clamp down on guards trying to drive inside. Portland State shot 39% from the field and a meager 27% from the 3-point line. The Vikings had multiple scoring droughts and the margin of defeat would have been greater had they not scored 17 points in the last six minutes of the game.
Only one Vikings player — guard Cameron Parker — scored in double figures with 13 points, and a large part of that was thanks to his 7-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. The two teams shot a plentiful amount of free throws, with the Vikings outshooting the Wildcats 34-19.
The Wildcats won't have much time to celebrate the win before they welcome Sacramento State to Ogden on Saturday — one of three teams tied for third place in the Big Sky with Weber State and Idaho State.