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Updated: Friday, March 21, 2003 12:44 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(5) Wisconsin 81, (12) Weber St 74
WEBER ST. WILDCATS
Weber St. Wildcats
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WISCONSIN BADGERS
Wisconsin Badgers
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SPOKANE, Washington (Ticker) -- Weber State entered the NCAA Tournament with the nation's second-longest winning streak. The Big Ten regular-season champions put an end to that.

Kirk Penney scored 21 points and fifth-seeded Wisconsin shot 53 percent to complement its stingy defense and defeated No. 12 Weber State, 81-74, in a first-round Midwest Region game.

An NCAA Tournament participant for the fifth straight season, Wisconsin (23-7) ranked fourth in the nation in defense, yielding an average of 58.7 points per game. But the Badgers were anxious to showcase an offense which was fourth in the Big Ten at 70.7 points and exceeded that by 10 points on Thursday.

"We were just more aggressive in going to the basket than we were in our Big Ten conference loss (to Ohio State last Friday)," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "Our success still hinges on our defense, but we are a good offensive club as long as we move the ball around."

Mike Wilkinson had 15 points and Devin Harris added 14 for Wisconsin, which had its best offensive showing since an 86-55 rout of Penn State on February 1.

"We have a complete team," Penney said. "We all have confidence in each other and I think we got contributions from just about everybody tonight."

Wisconsin will play 13th-seeded Tulsa in Saturday's second round.

The loss snapped a 17-game winning streak for Weber State (26-6), which shot just 32 percent (10-of-32) in the first half and 41 percent (29-of-71) for the game.

"We couldn't hit the shots in the first half and we couldn't get the stops when we needed them in the second half," Weber State coach Joe Cravens said.

The Wildcats had a stretch in which they missed 19-of-22 shots, including their last 12, to end the half as Wisconsin built a 41-26 advantage.

The Badgers held their biggest lead at 47-30 on a dunk by Alando Tucker with 17:39 left. After Nic Sparrow made a 3-pointer and a layup to key a 9-0 run for Weber State, Penney connected on a 3-pointer with 13:39 remaining.

Slobodan Ocokoljic, an Ohio State transfer familiar with Wisconsin's style of play, led Weber State with 26 points and 14 rebounds and did not let the Wildcats go quietly.

The Slovenian forward made a 3-pointer, a jumper and a free throw to pull Weber State within 54-47 with 9:43 remaining.

But Freddie Owens and Devin Harris each hit 3-pointers to spark a 12-4 spurt, giving Wisconsin a 66-51 lead with 6:38 left.

Guard Jermaine Boyette - the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year - had just 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the first 37 minutes of the game. But he erupted for 13 points in the final three minutes to finish with 25.

"I don't think they contained me," said Boyette, who averaged 20.4 points this season. "I mean, they did a good job in the first half, but I don't think they stopped me."

With Wisconsin holding a comfortable 70-56 lead after a jumper by Penney with 3:37 left, Boyette made two free throws, two layups, a tip-in, a jumper and a 3-pointer to help Weber State pull within 79-74 with just 17 seconds left.

But it was too little too late and freshman Boo Wade punctuated the win with a dunk in the final seconds for Wisconsin, which avenged a 73-69 loss to Weber State in Hawaii last season.

Wisconsin hit 11 of its first 14 shots, but held just a 23-19 lead because the Wildcats connected on 7-of-9 shots. But the Badgers closed the half with an 18-7 run as Weber State made just 3-of-22 shots.

Penney highlighted the spurt with a 3-pointer and a bank shot in the lane. The forward from New Zealand hit just 1-of-10 shots in Wisconsin's loss to Weber State last season.

The Wildcats upset North Carolina in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament, their last appearance.


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