Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Wildcats weather a big night from North Dakota to advance to the finals.
The Weber State Wildcats are now 26-5 on the season, but it took everything they had to get there. After weathering a huge first half from North Dakota, the Wildcats claimed a 76-74 victory in Montana on Friday night.
In less than three minutes to start the second half, it looked like North Dakota was ready to claim the first upset of the Big Sky Tournament. Leading scorer Troy Huff emphatically threw down a lob from Jamal Webb to cap a 9-0 run, giving UND a 52-40 lead.
Then Bolomboy happened.
Freshman phenom Joel Bolomboy dunked off a spin move going underneath the basket. He then dunked home a backjam after receiving a feed in the paint. Then, Weber State got a run-out off a missed shot, which led to Bolomboy stuffing home an alley-oop from Gelaun Wheelwright. Weber State was reignited after appearing to be tired and done.
Bolomboy finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks.
It would be easy to be tired after UND's 9-0 run. North Dakota shot 58% from the field and 57% from deep in the first half, out-pacing Weber to a 43-40 halftime lead. Troy Huff was everything the North Dakota "Redacteds" needed him to be, scoring 16 points in the first half.
Weber State's comeback was keyed by defense, however, as Huff shot just 3-11 in the second half. Meanwhile, Davion Berry continued his relentless assault on UND's defense. Berry got to the foul line at seemingly every crucial juncture, scoring 25 points and shooting 10-12 from the free-throw line -- one more attempt than North Dakota shot as a team.
Down the stretch, though, it was a pair of struggling Wildcats who came through to seal the win. After a Mitch Wilmer tip-in gave North Dakota a 74-71 lead, Scott Bamforth -- 2-8 from behind the arc to that point -- buried a three-pointer to tie the game with 1:08 to play.
After a stop, Weber turned to big man Kyle Tresnak, who played only 18 minutes due to foul trouble. Tresnak put home a push shot in the post with 18 seconds remaining for the win.
North Dakota finishes the season 16-16 and should feel good about its 2012-13 campaign. UND's first season in the Big Sky resulted in a third-place finish and pushing the conference's historically-best team to the brink.
Weber State will play the winner of Montana and Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. on Saturday for the Big Sky championship. The game will air on ESPNU.