Weber St. 68, Idaho St. 58
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ Jimmy Smith, who didn’t earn a starting job until midway through the season, scored a career-high 25 points Thursday night and Weber State defeated Idaho State 68-58 in first-round play at the Big Sky Conference tournament.
Smith, who averaged 4.4 points in the regular season, showed signs he was coming on by scoring in double figures the last three games. In his first tournament game with Weber, the transfer guard had 13 points in the second half to snuff out a surge by the Bengals.
Alex Fisher had 13 points and Ryan Cuff 12 to help the Wildcats (15-12) win their third in a row and go 3-0 against the Bengals (14-13).
Nate Green scored 17 points for Idaho State, and Rob Preston and Mack Tarver had 11 points and nine rebounds each.
Green delivered the game’s first tie at 50 when muscled in a layup and made a free throw for a three-point play with 9:55 remaining. And the Bengals got their first lead since the opening basket when Ron Harwell’s layup made it 52-50 just 27 seconds later.
But Cuff tied it at 8:05, and Smith made four free throws to break ties and send Weber ahead 56-54 with 6:54 to go. The Bengals scored only four points the rest of the way.
The Wildcats led 39-35 at halftime after taking a 28-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Cuff with 7:25 to play.
But the Bengals whittled away, getting within 35-33 on two free throws by Preston with 1:02 to go. Joey Haws, a reserve who had six points in nine minutes in the first half, kept the Wildcats ahead with two layups in the last 47 seconds.