The Weber State University women’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker to the Montana State University Bobcats on Saturday afternoon by a score of 69-65. This broke a six-game losing streak for MSU.
This game was the closest the Wildcats have come to winning this season, having come off of a 47-point loss to the University of Montana on Thursday night.
The first 10 minutes were fairly evenly matched as the Wildcats and the Bobcats traded baskets. The Wildcats came out shooting well, making six of their first nine shots. The Bobcats had a tougher time making their shots, but got a few offensive rebounds, getting them second-chance looks.
The Wildcats began to have shooting troubles late in the half, but their defense kept on giving the Bobcats trouble, and they took a 22-21 lead.
With five minutes to go, the Bobcats began to pull away from the Wildcats. They went on an 8-0 run over two minutes, going ahead by seven.
WSU broke the streak with free throws. MSU led by as many as nine points in the first half. The Wildcats got the last field goal of the half, a 17-foot jump shot from freshman Desiree Ramos, cutting the lead to seven going into the half. The Bobcats led 35-28 after the first 20 minutes.
Bobcat senior Rachel Semansky led all scorers with 10 points, adding six rebounds and three assists to her stats. Junior Ashley Brumwell added nine points for MSU.
Freshman Regina Okoye led all Wildcat scorers with seven points. Senior Kia Rhodes added six points for WSU. Freshman Jalen Carpenter had three blocks and three steals for the Wildcats. Junior Brittney Newcomb missed her first free throw of the season after having made her first 20.
WSU had a tough time taking care of the ball in the first half, committing 15 turnovers, which led to 17 points off turnovers for MSU. The Bobcats also won the rebound battle, getting 18 to the Wildcats’ 15. MSU also outscored the Wildcats 6-2 on second-chance points. There were 10 ties and six lead changes during the first half.
The Bobcats pushed the lead to 11 to start the half, scoring the first four points of the half. For much of the first 10 minutes of the half, the Wildcats traded buckets with the Bobcats. However, to begin the second part of the half, the Bobcats began to pull away again from the Wildcats, cashing in on some WSU turnovers.
The Bobcats pushed the lead to 18 with eight minutes to go. WSU responded with a seven-minute, 18-2 run, cutting the lead to just two points. During the stretch, the Wildcats caused multiple turnovers and were able to score on dribble drives, which in turn opened up the floor for their jump-shooting as well.
“My coach says that, when I attack the basket, to ‘go all the way and don’t hesitate,’” Okoye said. “So that’s what I did, and I went up strong with it to put points on the board.”
The Bobcats broke the run with a short turnaround jumper by Semansky. The Wildcats had a chance to tie the game with free throws, but made just 1-4 on two separate chances.
In the final 30 seconds, the Wildcats trailed by three and were forced to foul MSU. MSU made one of two free throws, then, off of a missed shot by WSU, got a quick transition bucket as the Bobcats broke the Wildcat full-court press before a foul could be committed, bringing the lead to six. Carpenter made a shot at the buzzer, cutting the lead to four.
Semansky finished the game with a double-double, scoring 28 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. She shot 10-12 from the field and 8-12 from the free throw line. Brumwell added 11 points for the Bobcats.
The Wildcats had three players in double figures. Okoye led the way with 16 points. Rhodes had 12 points, and Ramos finished with 11 points and seven assists.
The Wildcats won the turnover battle in the second half, getting 15 turnovers while only giving up seven. The Wildcats scored 26 points off turnovers in the game, as opposed to the 23 MSU scored.
“The defense is what got us back in it,” said head coach Bethann Ord. “We just said, ‘Whatever you have, you gotta leave it on the floor.’ We talk about how each individual has to do the best that they can do, and do the best for their teammates, and they really did. They left it on the floor. That last seven minutes, they just were working hard. We knew that if we could get stops, defense could get us into the game and keep us in the game.”
Okoye said she enjoyed the game despite the loss.
“If was definitely one of our best games playing together,” she said. “It was just a fun game all around to play.We didn’t put our heads down. We kept fighting. We went on runs and runs, and that just energized us. And then we just kept getting after it, using that energy to continue with our runs.”
The Wildcats will head to Pocatello, Idaho, on Thursday to take on the Idaho State University Bengals at 7 p.m. This will conclude the Wildcats’ four-game road trip.