Both the Wildcats of Arizona and Weber State clawed their way to the final buzzer, but Arizona was able to outlast a scrappy Weber State team 68-59 Friday in San Diego.
Despite a sluggish start for Arizona and a late-game run by Weber State, the Wildcats of Arizona held on behind a stellar performance from junior guard Nick Johnson who went for 18 points on the afternoon.
“[Weber State has] tremendous scorers,” Johnson told CBS following his team’s win. “We knew it was going to be a tough game…. We just had to punch back when they gave us punches. They are a good team and gave us a hard fight, but we pulled it out.”
Star freshman Aaron Gordon also chipped in 16 points to go along with four blocks and sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski added 10 points and five blocks for Arizona.
Weber State was led by Davion Berry who went 5-for-18 from the field and shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, amassing 24 points against the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. Arizona head coach Sean Miller praised Weber State and Berry in particular.
“Weber State is one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” Miller told CBS. “[Berry] is a tremendous guard. We couldn’t keep them off the glass. I’m glad we were able to advance and play on Sunday. You really have to enjoy the tournament. All of us do this for March…. We have to be a team that plays to win and enjoys being out here.”
Arizona avoided becoming the latest victim of upset on Friday after Duke was upended by Mercer and the Stanford Cardinal took down the Lobos of New Mexico. Aaron Gordon and his Arizona Wildcats found themselves with an eight-point deficit within the first six minutes of play, but his team was able to outrun the quick-trigger three-point shooting of Weber State to go into the half with a 32-20 lead.
Weber State proved they were not intimidated by a much larger Arizona team as the Wildcats in purple were able to outscore Arizona 39-36 in the second half behind Berry and sophomore forward Joel Bolomboy’s game-high 16 rebounds.
Arizona came into this game at 30-4 and Weber State was 19-11. Coach Miller’s squad will take on the winner of this afternoon’s Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game on Sunday.