Weber State basketball puts away Western Colorado in first half, coasts to Fragrance’s first win | News, Sports, Jobs

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Weber State guard Junior Ballard (4) drives past Western Colorado defenders as Alex Tew (20) looks on in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State forward Dillon Jones (2) drives against Western Colorado forward Robel Desta (22) in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State guard Steven Verplancken Jr., right, drives past Western Colorado guard Jonathan McCloud in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State players, from left, Handje Tamba, Keith Dinwiddie Jr., Steven Verplancken Jr., Dillon Jones and Junior Ballard huddle during a game against Western Colorado on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

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Weber State guard Junior Ballard (4) drives past Western Colorado defenders as Alex Tew (20) looks on in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Weber State forward Dillon Jones (2) drives against Western Colorado forward Robel Desta (22) in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

Weber State guard Steven Verplancken Jr., right, drives past Western Colorado guard Jonathan McCloud in a game Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.


Weber State players, from left, Handje Tamba, Keith Dinwiddie Jr., Steven Verplancken Jr., Dillon Jones and Junior Ballard huddle during a game against Western Colorado on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

OGDEN — Eric Duft got a shower of cold water after Thursday’s game to celebrate the first win of his head-coaching career for Weber State men’s basketball as the Wildcats hammered Western Colorado in the first half, then coasted to an 83-67 win at the Dee Events Center.

Third-year forward Dillon Jones stuffed the stat sheet with his first double-double of the season, totaling 21 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Senior guard Junior Ballard scored 17 points and junior guard Steven Verplancken Jr. added 10 points.

Jones got rolling late in the first half, Ballard and KJ Cunningham hit 3-pointers and a Jones driving bucket capped a 19-5 run to finish the frame, giving Weber State a 50-28 halftime lead.

“First helped, we were really locked in. I was concerned about this game for a few days, we got this game sandwiched in between Washington and Colorado State and, to be honest with you, we didn’t have a great shootaround. Guys looked a little flat, they played really hard at Washington,” Fragrance said. “The first helped, we did what we needed to do, we were pressing the ball and made them take bad shots.

“The second half, we just kind of lost all that. I know it’s human nature but for us to be good in league, we’ve got to be better than that.”

Jones opened the second half by hitting his first 3 of the season for a 25-point lead but, after that, WSU lost some of its edge and allowed the visiting Mountaineers to hang around. Western Colorado made nine of its first 12 3-point attempts in the second half — some a result of lax defense, some a result of some unconscious shooting.

“First helped, we played hard. A good 20. Second half … we’ve got to put that together if we want to get where we want to be at the end of the year,” Ballard said. “Just putting it together is something we can do a better job of.”

Still, the Wildcats maintained a lead of 20 points until the final six minutes. A Ballard three-point play and a post-move bucket from Handje Tamba put WSU up 77-54 with 7:45 left.

The Mountaineers finished the game on a 13-6 run from there against a somewhat disinterested-looking WSU squad, which was a noticeable difference from the opener Monday.

“We left it all on the floor at Washington … I thought it was more our mentality than our experience,” Fragrance said about Thursday’s second-half slip. “Some of our veteran guys weren’t very good either so we’ve got to keep addressing that.”

Cunningham finished with nine points and four rebounds. Freshman post Daniel Rouzan added six points, Keith Dinwiddie Jr. scored five and senior guard Zahir Porter and sophomore center Alex Tew each scored four points. Tew returned to action after missing the exhibition game and Monday’s opener at Washington with an ankle sprain.

Kevin Jimenez led Western Colorado with 13 points and Gino Corridori grabbed 10 rebounds.

Weber State next plays Monday, Nov. 14, at Colorado State. The Wildcats don’t return home until Dec. 3 against Utah Tech.

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