On its first Big Sky road trip of the season, the Weber State University women’s basketball team headed to take on Portland State University on Saturday, hoping to garner its first conference win in more than a year.
The Wildcats were unable to overcome the surge of the Vikings in the second half, falling 66-60 in another highly contested game. Their record fell to 4-7, 0-2 in the Big Sky.
Neither team was able to find a rhythm early on, struggling with turnovers and with capitalizing on free throws. The Wildcats shot a mere 28.1 percent from the field, while the Vikings struggled in their own right, only making 20 percent of their shots.
The Wildcats took a 22-19 lead into halftime. It was the second-straight game in which they had the advantage through the first 20 minutes.
But in the second half, the Vikings were able to find their groove, as they were able to make the adjustments necessary to raise their shooting percentage. The Vikings were able to get more penetration into the paint, which led to easier baskets. The Wildcats continued to battle, but couldn’t overcome some key turnovers in the final minutes.
Amanda Hughes led the Wildcats with 19 points and seven rebounds, once again coming close to a double-double. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin added 12 points and six rebounds. They were the only Wildcats in double figures.
Even in defeat, the Wildcats were able to outrebound the Vikings, something head coach Bethann Ord said had to happen if they were going to have a chance.
“Once again, we battled and never gave up,” Ord said. “We played not only as individuals, but together as a team. After the last game, the team set goals on what we needed to work on. We did a lot better on rebounding, but turnovers still hurt us once again.”
Hughes, who has been bringing a huge spark off the bench, has averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game in the two games since Big Sky play has started.
“The game went pretty well, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win,” Hughes said. “One thing that I learned is that we really need to capitalize on the other team’s turnovers and making free throws.”
Through win or loss, Ord said the players are going to improve and need to get better if they are to compete with the top teams in the Big Sky.
“We need to capitalize on turnovers; when they make mistakes, we have to take hold of those opportunities,” Ord said. “The other team was able to do that tonight, and we were not able to.”
After more than a month of playing away from the Dee Events Center, the Wildcats are anxious to get home and continue their early success while playing at home.
“We are excited to get home and play in front of our fans,” Ord said. “We must protect our house, and we have done that so far this season. Once we learn how to finish those close games, we need to get over that hump. But once we do, it will be scary to see what happens.”
The Wildcats will host the University of Northern Colorado on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.