On a beautiful Sunday morning in West Point, N.Y., a battle was being waged not on the frontlines but on the court, as the Weber State University women’s basketball team battled against the United States Military Academy. This was the second game of the Wildcats’ East Coast road trip, and they entered the game hoping to walk away with a win, but USMA had different plans.
USMA held off a late surge from the Wildcats as it escaped with a 57-51 victory. The loss drops WSU’s record to 2-2 overall after starting the season with a perfect 2-0. USMA improved to 2-1 in its young season.
The Wildcats were led by Amanda Hughes with 14 points, while Regina Okoye added 12 points. Okoye also hauled down 12 rebounds to record a double-double while battling foul trouble for most of the game.
Those 12 rebounds helped the Wildcats out-rebound USMA 38-32 overall and 15-6 on the offensive glass. Desiree Ramos rounded out the Wildcats, scoring in double figures as she made 11 points in the defeat.
Facing another road test, the Wildcats struggled once again in shooting from the field, shooting 31.5 percent and 15-23 at the free-throw line. That poor shooting put the Wildcats in a hole early; they were down by as much as 20 points in the second half.
But the Wildcats didn’t give up. While on the comeback trail, they slowly chipped away at the lead until they were within three points with 4:31 remaining. Head coach Bethann Ord said she saw an improvement in many aspects of her team in the second half.
“They started to do what they were supposed to be doing,” Ord said. “They attacked the basket and got some calls that sent us to the line. Our offensive rebounding was huge as well; we blocked out and got the ball. That was one of our main emphases during the game.”
That was the closest the Wildcats got, as USMA held off the late charge behind Kelsey Minato, who led all scorers with 19 points.
Ord said she felt the women played well at certain points of the game, but knows that, for them to win on the road, they must play the full game with the same intensity.
“We learned once again that you have to play all 40 minutes to win,” Ord said. “Any time you go on the road it is tough, but I felt like the team didn’t give up. The girls battled, and I am proud of them.”
Okoye, who continues to grow with the other young players on the team, agreed with her coach about playing a full game. Her 12 rebounds were a result of her knowing she needed to be aggressive and help her team out.
“We could have started a little bit better, but the second half was pretty good,” Okoye said. “We didn’t give up, and played hard until the end. I knew that I had to crash the boards; I knew that it wouldn’t be hard to get those rebounds. I wanted to help my team out.”
The Wildcats will host the U.S. Air Force Academy on Nov. 26. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.