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Weber State earns berth, warns, 'we're coming'

Associated Press

OGDEN, Utah -- Jermaine Boyette has a warning for whatever team Weber State draws in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

The point guard who scored 29 points in the Wildcats' 60-57 win Wednesday night over Eastern Washington wants the rest of the field to know just who holds the country's second-longest winning streak.

"Whoever draws us better watch out because we're coming,'' said Boyette, who had 22 points in the second half. "We want to be a Cinderella team.''

Weber State (26-5) won its 17th straight game, second only to Kentucky's 20 in a row, and earned its 15th NCAA appearance. The last time the Wildcats went to the tournament was in 1999, when they shocked North Carolina 76-74 in the opening round.

The loss was the third straight for Eastern Washington (18-12) in the Big Sky championship game. The Eagles' Danny Pariseau missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime.

In his final game at the Dee Events Center, Boyette had one of his best performances. The Big Sky's regular-season and tournament MVP scored made his presence felt after missing nearly 10 minutes of the first half with two fouls.

"All I wanted was for my team to hold on,'' Boyette said. "If we were down by one or three (at halftime), we would be OK.''

Weber State needed all of Boyette's points. The Wildcats trailed 48-44 and second-leading scorer Slobodan Ocokoljic picked up his fourth foul with 9:47 remaining. But Weber State responded with a 9-0 run to take a lead it would never relinquish.

"(Boyette) was probably the difference in the game,'' Weber State's Brad Barton said. "He's been elevating his play in the second half in every game. It wasn't much of a surprise.''

Eastern Washington's Marc Axton and Chris Hester scored 17 points each.

Weber State would have been in trouble without Boyette. Nic Sparrow was the only other player to score in double figures with 12 points.

Weber State won despite going 3-for-21 from 3-point range and shooting 32 percent in the first half. The Wildcats had a 38-31 rebounding edge over the Eagles.

Eastern Washington had to play with eight players after forward Jeremy McCulloch sprained his ankle in the Big Sky semifinals on Tuesday.

"I'm pleased as punch,'' Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti said. "The bottom line is Weber State deserved to win.''

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