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Monday, September 1, 2014 | Last updated: 6:50am

Weber State’s 3-point militia



It can be a deadly weapon.

A desperation shot that can drastically swing the momentum.

Some even make an entire career out of it.

And for Arizona, defending the 3-point shot on Friday will be its point of attention when it begins the NCAA tournament against Weber State.

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By Courtesy of Weber State
Weber State senior guard/forward Davion Berry is averaging 19.1 points per game and shoots 38 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

“Any time you play a team that’s prolific on offense that has shooters like Weber State does, they’re the team that can be successful in the NCAA tournament,” said Arizona head coach Sean Miller. “They’re an extremely well-coached team who has a skilled group of players.”

Through 30 games, Weber State was rarely the quickest to pull the trigger — it attempted the 203 most 3-point field goal shots (549). However, it successfully made 39.2 percent of its attempts, 19th highest in the country. From the Pac-12 Conference, only Oregon and Oregon State had a higher 3-point field goal percentage, and both were tenths of a percentage higher.

UCLA finished just behind Weber State with a 39.1 percentage, ASU not much farther behind with a 38.6 3-point field goal percentage.

Thus through the Pac-12 the Wildcats have been 3-point tested.

But they’ve failed. The Wildcats’ tendency to give up untimely 3-pointers has been a weakness all season long.

In their second loss of the season to the Sun Devils on Feb. 14 in Tempe, Ariz., ASU’s starting shooting guard, Jermaine Marshall, made four 3-pointers, two coming late in the second overtime. His two overtime 3-pointers gave the Sun Devils the final lead and propelled them to the 69-66 upset win over the then-No. 2 Wildcats.

Not much later, in the final game of the season on the road at Oregon, Arizona would allow the Ducks to make 10 3-pointers and pull away to a 64-57 upset. Three of Oregon’s 10 3-pointers came in the final 4:22.

Then, in their most recent loss to UCLA on Saturday in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament, the Wildcats once again gave up a late 3-pointer to seal a loss.

“We lost a game we could have won,” Miller said after the game. “Jordan Adams hit a great shot.”

Tied at 68 with 43 seconds left, Adams’ 3-pointer was the hammer to the nail and would be the winning shot in the Bruins’ 75-71 victory over the Wildcats.

If the Wildcats lose for the fifth and final time this season on Friday, it will be because WSU beat them with its starters.

“[Weber State] point guard Davion Berry -– just looking at his numbers, they are really striking,” Miller said. “He’s a special guard and probably one of the reasons why they’re here in the NCAA tournament.”

If Berry is the reason his team is in the NCAA tournament, it’s because he’s a scorer and a long-distance shooter. Berry — who plays guard and forward — leads his Wildcats team with 19.1 points per game. But his ability to shoot from long distance is a main part of his game.

The combo guard has averaged five 3-point attempts per game and has made a total of 57 3-pointers this season. But WSU’s Jeremy Senglin is even more of a threat. The fellow starting guard has made 61 3-pointers.

Both Berry and Senglin have more made 3-pointers than anyone on Arizona’s roster. In fact, three of Weber States starters have made more than 50 3-pointers so far this season.

Weber State might not be the deepest of teams the Wildcats have played. Only six WSU players average more than 20 minutes per game. But their starters have gotten them this far, and if they become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed it’ll be because of 3-pointers.

Following Arizona’s loss to UCLA, Miller said everything that has happened to the Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament and the entire season will only empower them going into the NCAA tournament.

Friday will be their chance to prove it.

“Last year in our first round we played Belmont and it was very similar, they’re a prolific 3-point shooting team,” Miller said. “And we prepared. If you remember last year, we did an excellent job defending their 3-point shot. We have to be able to do that same this year to advance.”

NCAA tournament bracket

— Follow Luke Della @LukeDella


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