After spending a weekend on the East Coast, the Weber State University women’s basketball team traveled to the West Coast on Sunday, hoping to win its first road game of the year. After an impressive win at home against the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Wildcats were hoping to keep the momentum as they faced off against one of the better teams in the West Coast Conference, the University of San Diego.
The Toreros used a 15-point halftime lead to send the Wildcats packing, 75-55. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 3-3 on the season and 0-3 on the road so far this season.
Coach Bethann Ord, who is in her second season as head coach, said the team continues to have growing pains, but she likes what she sees from the players so far this season. Their first three road games have been against tough opponents, and some weaknesses have been uncovered, but it’s nothing practicing and working hard can’t fix.
“Our open looks were falling, and you need them to fall when you are playing a veteran and well-coached team,” Ord said. “You can’t give the other team 16 second-chance opportunities on the road. Everyone has to box out, do their job.”
The Wildcats were out-rebounded by 25 in the game, 48-23, and never held the lead. Ord said the team needs to go back and work hard in the gym on the things it struggled with.
“We can’t go and change things overnight, but we will continue to work hard and get better,” she said. “Our main focus this week will be on boxing out and rebounding. We are going to focus on the next game and getting better. The road wins will come.”
Regina Okoye led the Wildcats in scoring. She poured 21 coming off the bench, while Desiree Ramos added another 15. They were the only two Wildcats in double figures, and they also contributed two assists apiece. Jalen Carpenter and Kalie Matthews both grabbed four rebounds apiece to pace the team.
The Toreros were led by the double-double by Katelyn McDaniel, with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Those 22 points were a career high for McDaniel, whose previous high was 21 against Loyola Marymount University.
“Regina came in and gave us good minutes off the bench,” Ord said. “We knew she could do that. Desiree gave a great effort as well, always going hard and playing 100 percent the whole game. Also, she didn’t miss a free throw, which is huge.”
Ramos went 5-5 from the free-throw line. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin also ended the night with 100 percent, as she shot 4-4. Overall, the Wildcats had a better shooting percentage from the charity stripe, 75 percent to 69 percent.
“I felt the game went good,” Ramos said. “We did have a slow start, but once we got going it was good. We just need to keep working hard and practicing with intensity.”
Ramos actually played with a swollen eye for the better part of the second half, as she was poked in the eye.
“The other girl’s whole hand went into my face on the press,” Ramos said. “It started to swell up during the game.”
Ord praised Ramos for her leadership on the court and for always playing with great intensity and fire in the game.
“Desiree played with her eye starting to swell up,” she said. “I think it shows a lot when she plays all but one minute of the game under those circumstances.”
The Wildcats will now return home to take on in-state rival Utah Valley University on Saturday. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.