The Thunderbirds were up 32-29 at halftime and led through much of the second half but Weber State used a 12-2 run midway through the period to overcome a 43-36 deficit and take a 48-45 lead on a pair of Berry free throws with 8:20 to play.
SUU came back to tie the game at 51-51 on an A.J Hess 3-pointer but Weber State scored the next five points before another Hess three made it a 56-54 ballgame with 1:04 to play. Weber State – which enjoyed a 43-12 edge in free throw attempts, making 31 of them – then knocked down eight free throws in the final 32 seconds to seal the win.
The Wildcats made just four field goals in the second half.
Jaren Jeffery came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting for the Thunderbirds and Hess, who hit 4-of-6 3-point attempts, also had 16. Jeffery, Jayson Cheesman and Eric Rippetoe co-led SUU with four rebounds each.
“You’ve got to give Weber St a lot of credit, they were a lot more aggressive in the second half,” SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. “Davion Berry was super in transition, he did a great job leading them back and to the win.
“We were able to respond to their runs and the guys did a good job of making plays throughout the game,” Robinson added. “We did a good job defensively throughout the night. We held them to 40 percent shooting but they were more aggressive than we were … and they were able to get to the free throw line.”
Southern Utah used an 11-2 first half run to turn a 20-15 deficit into a 26-22 advantage. Hess started the run with a 3-pointer, then Kennedy scored on a drive and a jump shot before Jeremy Senglin scored for the Wildcats to make it a 22-22 game. Hess answered with another jumper, however, and Cal Hanks hit a jump shot from the free throw line to give SUU a 26-22 lead.
Weber got back-to-back threes from Senglin and Byron Fulton to go back up 28-26, but Jeffery converted a 4-point play after he was fouled on a 3-pointer to give SUU a 30-28 lead, then after Richaud Gittens hit a pair of free throws Jeffery hit another jump shot to give the Thunderbirds a 32-29 lead at halftime.
SUU had its second-best opening half of the season, hitting 14-of-27 shots (51.9 percent) in the period, while holding WSU to 10-of-23 shooting (.435). Jeffery led the way with 13 in the half, one more than his previous career high, and he also led the T-Birds with four rebounds at the break.
“Our guys came out with a lot of energy and effort for the second straight game,” Robinson noted. “We made some shots in the first half, that was a big part of it. We’re pleased with our effort and our execution.”
SUU dipped to 0-6 in Big Sky, 1-14 overall, while Weber State improved to 4-1 in league play and 7-6 overall.