The Chadron State men’s basketball team lost 76-59, Thursday, in an exhibition game with Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.
The Wildcats of Weber State, a NCAA Division I team, took advantage of a slow start by Chadron, jumping out to a 13-2 lead before the Eagles began to respond by closing the gap to 15-9 with about eight minutes remaining in the half. Weber, would go into halftime with a 30-21 lead.
About midway through the second half, Chadron’s Michael Sparks, junior of Denver, sank a 3-pointer, and assisted on a layup to Diontae Champion, senior of Pearl, Mississippi, to make it 44-38 in favor of Weber. The Eagles were unable to stop a steady stream of points by the Wildcats, falling behind by as much as 20 points throughout the remainder of the game.
According to the Weber State Athletic Communications, the heavily favored Wildcats entered the 2018 season coming off a 20-11 record in 2017 with their third-consecutive 20-win season, and have been selected to finish second in the Big Sky Conference in pre-season polls.
The Wildcats were led by 6-foot-1-inch guard Jerrick Harding, junior of Wichita, Kansas, who hit six of 15 field goals, and tallied one 3-pointer. Weber state hit 51.1 percent of their field goals and sank 26 of 34 attempts from the free-throw line.
Champion led the Eagles by scoring with 14 points from four of eight attempted field goals. Teammate Charles Gavin, a senior of Denver, contributed 10 points to the Chadron effort, hitting four of seven field goals. Gavin was a perfect 2-2 from the line.
Jeremy Ruffin, senior of Chicago, who came to Chadron State via Western Nebraska Community College, in Scottsbluff, led the team with eight rebounds. Champion was the Eagles’ next best in the category with seven defensive rebounds.
The Eagles’ regular season begins this Friday when the team hosts Texas A&M International, at the Chicoine Center. Saturday, the Texas theme continues as the Eagles face Texas A&M – Kingsville, also at the Chicoine Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. for both Friday and Saturday’s games.