Wildcats win over Portland State 65-57 despite shooting difficulties


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OGDEN — It took a monumental effort from multiple players across the board, but Weber State pulled off a tough, slow victory over Portland State on Saturday night.

While the former Wildcats great Damian Lillard was in Utah winning the NBA All-Star 3-point contest, his alma mater's basketball team was finishing up a two-game road trip with a 65-57 win over the Vikings in Oregon.

Although Lillard made knocking down 3-pointers rather easy in his award-winning performance, both the Wildcats and Vikings struggled to get deep shots to fall all night. Each team only made three 3-pointers apiece — Portland State shot 16% from behind the arc while Weber State took less attempts and finished 25% from deep.

Offense, especially in the first half, was difficult for both sides. The teams traded buckets for most of the half, with a majority of the points coming inside the paint or from short mid-range shots.

The 3-point shooting woes showed themselves early, and by halftime each team had only recorded one made 3-pointer. For the Wildcats, senior guard Zahir Porter did his best Lillard impression as he drained one from NBA range near the midway point of the first half.

Each team was helped by an offensive run in the first half, which included a run to give Weber State a 27-19 lead with just a few minutes to go before Portland State went on a run of its own to tie it up at halftime.

The Wildcats offense came to life a bit more in the second half but could never do enough to pull away from the Vikings for good. The teams tied multiple times, and the Wildcats' biggest lead of 8 points ended up being the final deficit between the two teams.

Weber State forward Dillon Jones recorded another double-double, his seventeenth on the season, as he led his team in scoring with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Steven Verplancken was the only other Wildcats player to score in double figures; he finished with 10 points and one of the team's 3-pointers.

Center Alex Tew had one of his better games and scored 9 points, seven rebounds, and contributed a block and two steals. Porter also finished with 9 points on the night.

Jones took matters into his own hands at the end of the game and willed his team to victory. In the waning minutes, he went on a stretch where he scored 7 straight points and 9 of the last 11 points as his efforts propelled the team when it needed him most.

With the win, the Wildcats return home for a second-chance opportunity against an undefeated Eastern Washington team in conference play. Weber State has sole possession of third place in the Big Sky Conference with three games left to play in the regular season.

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