The unthinkable almost happened for the Weber State Wildcats on Friday, March 21 at the NCAA Tournament. In front of a Viejas Arena crowd in San Diego almost entirely decked out in Arizona red the No. 16 seed in purple did everything it could to get the win.
Weber State lost 68-59 to Arizona -- but gained the admiration of a nation hungry to see a 16 seed knock off a 1 seed.
The team in purple stormed out of the starting block, reeling off the game’s first seven points -- and 10 of its first 12 -- before No. 1 seed Arizona awakened from its early slumber and pounded the Big Sky conference champions 30-12 to end the half.
But the Wildcats in purple would not go down to the Wildcats in red and white without a fight -- though towards the halfway point of the second half it looked like Arizona would win going away, up 50-29.
Weber State (19-12) shot poorly for the first 30 minutes of the game -- but the last 10 minutes told a different story.
Despite going an eye-popping 5-for-20 from the field, senior guard Davion Berry put the team on his back similar to what former Weber and current NBA All-Star Damian Lillard would’ve done -- had Lillard been in purple today.
Berry may have had a horrendous day shooting jumpers -- but his free throw shooting (10-for-10) and three-point shooting kept Weber within striking distance of Arizona and its cavalcade of future NBA stars.
Berry had 24 points to lead all scorers -- and Richaud Gittens came from nowhere to make several critical steals late en route to a few easy layups and 12 points. Forward Joel Bolomboy had 11 points and 16 rebounds for Weber State, who cut Arizona's lead to seven with 24 seconds to play.
As the game neared its conclusion, Arizona (31-4) showed its depth and did just enough -- despite missing several free throws -- to seal the victory and move on in March Madness.