POCATELLO — When Idaho State was clinging to a late lead and forced up a contested 3-pointer to beat the shot clock, the 1,828 fans in Holt Arena held their breath.
They loudly exhaled at the result.
Kelvin Jones cleaned up Chier Maker's missed 3, spun inside his defender and wrapped around the rim for a one-handed dunk that got the old box on Dragila Way booming. The put-back gave ISU a four-point lead with a half-minute to play — a margin that held in the Bengals' 78-74 rivalry win Monday night.
The offensive rebound was ISU's 14th of the game, and Jones' second-chance points brought the Bengals' total to 22. The victory snaps a five-game losing streak for Idaho State (10-17, 6-12 Big Sky Conference), which beat the Wildcats for the third consecutive season.
“I'm happy,” Bengals coach Bill Evans said postgame. “Pretty good feeling. We beat a really good team.”
Jones' dunk was followed with a full-court-press-breaking slam by Alonzo Walker, and two free throws by Brandon Boyd to ice the W. Weber State (16-13, 10-8 Big Sky) scrambled to reach the foul bonus during the closing moments, and only put Boyd on the line with 2.5 seconds left.
The Wildcats' heave at the buzzer wouldn't have mattered had it went in.
The win means ISU can still move from 10th to as high as eighth place in the Big Sky standings with two regular-season games until the conference tournament.
“Very excited to bring this one home, especially against a good team like Weber,” Jones said. “I'm happy with our guys. We went out there and shared and we just played hard. Just proud of these guys for playing their hardest.”
Jones' end-of-game exclamation point was a microcosm of what went well for ISU.
The Bengals dominated the offensive glass, pulling down 14 second-chance opportunities and converting them into 22 second-chance points. Weber State entered the game as the Big Sky's top defensive rebounding team, but was out-worked by ISU over and over again.
ISU out-rebounded WSU 36-24 overall.
“Rebounding only comes down to just wanting it more,” Jones said. “We just want to be at our best right now. This is definitely the time to start peaking. Guys are just playing hard right now.”
ISU's offense also got rolling in the second half, helping the Bengals flip a 35-33 halftime deficit.
The Bengals scored on 11 consecutive possessions, thanks on streaks of six and five makes in a row that were sandwiched around a Jones miss that he put back for two points. The teams traded blows at that point, with neither side missing a shot from the 14:55 mark of the second half until Jones' miss at 11:37.
ISU made 18 of 33 second-half shots (54.5 percent) and shot 47.7 percent for the game against Weber State's highly ranked defense that holds opponents to 43.1 percent for the season.
“We moved the ball pretty quick. We shared it. We played in a really good pace, and that's what made them confused,” said ISU guard Balint Mocsan, who led the charge with a game-high 20 points. “We passed the ball to the post, they did a great job attacking the basket and kicking out. I thought in the second half, we made some pretty big shots.”
Mocsan and Co. fed Jones down low and grinded out possessions against Weber State's man-to-man defense that's stingy against 3-pointers. Jones took advantage en route to 19 points.
But the Bengals also made 3s when they could, sinking 9 of 25 from the arc (36 percent), including five in a row to build a 66-57 advantage — either team's largest lead of the game.
Weber State led by six points, five minutes into the second half and was hot early from deep, making a trio of 3s out of the gate. The Wildcats approached a season high with 13 made triples, but shot 10 fewer times than Idaho State thanks to the Bengals' offensive rebounding.
WSU is now 206-33 under head coach Randy Rahe when leading at halftime. The team's three-game Big Sky losing streak is its first since the end of last season.
By contrast, ISU improved to 18-103 under Evans when behind at the break. Monday's victory was ISU's first against Weber at home since 2016.
“They've been struggling a little bit, but still, it's Weber,” Mocsan said. “They have a really good team, and we proved ourselves.”
Boyd matched Jones with 19 points, enough to move him into a tie for 12th place on ISU's career scoring list (1,221) with Amorrow Morgan and Ron Boone. Jones grabbed a season-high-tying 10 rebounds and added a pair of blocked shots. Jared Stutzman chipped in eight points, and Maker added seven points and nine boards.
Jerrick Harding, the Big Sky's second-leading scorer this season at 22.0 points per game, led WSU with 18 points Monday on 6-of-15 shooting. Brekkott Chapman and Cody John scored 16 points each. Israel Barnes had 14.
ISU hosts Eastern Washington on Thursday at Holt Arena.