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LOGAN -- The Weber State Wildcats were on their way to getting blown out by the Eagles of Morehead State, but climbed on the back of point guard Damian Lillard who carried them to a come-from-behind win, 66-64 during the second day of the Basketball Travelers Invitational hosted by Utah State.
Lillard scored a game-high 22 points and scored the go-ahead basket in the final minute to propel the Wildcats to the win.
"I felt like that they were trying to take advantage of us, they looked at us like they were going to punk us the whole game and somebody had to stop it, because it wasn't going to keep happening," Lillard said. "We've been in the position before, nobody panicked. I just told everyone to calm down, just keep on playing."
They were aggressive early, we were aggressive late and we were able to sneak one out.
–WSU Head Coach Randy Rahe
Morehead State opened the game with a 23-3 run, using seven Wildcats turnovers and only allowing Weber State to shoot the ball twice.
Head Coach Randy Rahe was shocked by his team's start.
"I didn't see that start coming. I think the whole start should be given as more of a credit to Morehead State. They were so aggressive and chased every rebound. I think it put us back on our heels."
The Eagles out-rebounded the Wildcats 26 to seven in the first half, something that Weber State knew they had to change.
"They out-rebounded us like crazy in the first half, so basically just focusing on our defensive effort and our rebounding," said Nick Hansen. "That's what's going to make the big difference in the game."
The Wildcats battled back and cut the lead to 11 at halftime and hung close early in the second half before a game-changing technical foul.
Morehead State guard Brandon Shingles' technical foul would also be his fifth personal foul and an early exit from the game; something that Head Coach Donnie Tyndall was not happy about.
"I don't like to blame anyone or throw kids under the bus, but what Shingles did to get a technical fouled was a selfish act, and he did it with four fouls; it was unacceptable. When he fouled out it changed the complexion of our team."
Rahe agrees that it changed the game.
"I thought it was a big play, that's kid is a good little player and we were having a hard time with him. If you take him out of the equation, that's a big part of their game and a big adjustment for them."
With Shingles out of the equation, the Wildcats would go on a 12-5 run and shut down the Eagle offensive effort not allowing them score a single field goal for almost twelve minutes in the second half.
The Wildcats took their first lead with 5:25 left in the game when Kyle Bullinger made a breakaway layup. After that is was back-and-forth battle with the teams trading leads or were tied nine times until the Wildcats were finally able to hold off the Eagles to get the win.
Lindsey Hughey dropped in 15 points. Hansen added 13 for the Wildcats.
"The winning coach talks about their team was more aggressive, the losing team's coach talks about how their team wasn't aggressive enough. That's what it comes down to," said Rahe. "They were aggressive early, we were aggressive late and we were able to sneak one out."
Morehead State was led by Maze Stallworth who had a double-double, scoring 21 points and getting fourteen rebounds. Kenneth Faried who is one the best rebounders in the nation was quiet on the glass tonight only getting six, but scored 16 points.
The Wildcats will now play the last and final game of the Invitational against in-state rival and host, Utah State. The last time these two teams met was at the start of the season when the Aggies were able to get the win on the road in Ogden 66-60.
The Aggies used tough defense to hold the Wildcats to just 33 percent shooting inside the 3-point line and just 10 percent outside of it.
Weber State will look to dominate in the paint again as they outscored the Utah State 20 to 4, they also had thirteen second chance points.
"They beat us on our home court so we just want to come out and beat them on their home court," said Lillard.
The Aggies beat up on Cal State Fullerton 83-60 setting up the match-up with the Wildcats. Both teams are 2-0 in the tournament.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.