There will be little love lost between Montana and Weber State when the Big Sky Conference heavyweights meet again in Ogden on Valentine’s Day.
Tempers flared after an emotional, physical game Saturday as the teams went through the postgame handshake line following the Grizzlies’ 76-74 win over the Wildcats. A verbal altercation ignited an incident of pushing and shoving that had security and coaches from both sides rushing to clear the court.
Weber State coach Randy Rahe said he didn’t know what happened, but he was going to deal with it.
“My assistants, we’re going to try to find out. I don’t know what happened, I don’t like it, I don’t know whose fault it was,” Rahe said. “I’ll just tell you this, if it was our fault, there’s going to be hell to pay because that’s not how we do things. It was an emotional game. Kids on both teams fought really hard and we’ve got some kids that know each other on both teams. Who knows what really happened. I’m sure it was probably from both ends would be my guess, talking a little bit.”
Montana coach Wayne Tinkle told Bob Meseroll of The Missoulian that he wasn’t sure who the instigator was either.
“I was halfway up the tunnel,” Tinkle said. “Two competitive teams, a big game and apparently there was a little bit of talk going on. I know I expect better from our guys and I know Randy expects better. It was an emotional game and we have to make sure we don’t allow any of that nonsense. I’m glad our guys held their composure and didn’t do anything silly.”
Weber State junior center Kyle Tresnak said he was walking back from the line when the incident occurred, but went back. “I was just trying to get people out,” he said.
Senior shooting guard Scott Bamforth said he didn’t know what started it.
“It was an intense basketball game, so people are going to have their nerves up and be ready,” he said. “We’re mad we lost, they’re happy they won. I don’t know what happened exactly.”
A partial video of the incident can be seen at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog.
Two years ago, the Wildcats stunned a previously unbeaten Big Sky leader (Northern Colorado) with a halfcourt shot by Bamforth, who caught the ball near the midcourt line, dribbled across and launched a 40-footer in at the buzzer.
Weber State had something similar in mind for Davion Berry’s last-second try at unbeaten league-leader Montana, but it didn’t work out.
WSU didn’t have a timeout to set up a play to go the length of the court after forcing a Montana turnover with just over three seconds left, but Rahe said they would drawn up something similar to the play that developed.
“We try to get Dev Berry the ball as close to halfcourt as possible, have him try to take two or three hard dribbles and try to get up a clean 3-point shot,” Rahe said. “He got one up, it was a little deeper than we would like but that’s basically the same kind of thing we’d have run if we had a timeout.”
Weber State had its own free throw struggles earlier in the season, but in both games last week, with the Wildcats trying to scrap back in two road games and needing to foul to do it, they ran into a different kind of free throw problem: Specifically, Montana State and Montana refused to offer Weber State any charity from the charity stripe.
The Bobcats hit 24 of 29 (82.8 percent) from the line, including their final 14, while the Griz were even better, going 30 of 32 (90.9 percent).
Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow @RoyBurton on Twitter, read more about the Wildcats at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.