The Weber State University women’s basketball team went up north to continued its search for its first conference win of the year. WSU’s opponent, the University of North Dakota, found itself at the top of the conference standings when the two teams met Thursday.
After a defensive slugfest, UND did just enough to pull away with the win, 68-55. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 4-16, 0-11 in conference play.
“We played the last five minutes with a lot of urgency, but that wasn’t there the whole game,” said WSU head coach Bethann Ord. “That is one of the biggest riddles we have had all year, trying to play a full 40 minutes. Once we figure out how to do that, it is going to be scary to see what we can do.”
Desiree Ramos, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, was held without a basket as she finished the game with only two points. But she was able to dish out four assists in the losing effort.
“It was a defensive game, but they were forcing Dez to pass the ball early on,” Ord said. “She was trying to find her open teammates and get them involved.”
With the defense focusing on Ramos, Regina Okoye had a quality game on both sides of the ball. She filled the stat sheet with 16 points, six steals and five rebounds.
“The fact that I stayed aggressive and put myself in position to make a difference (helped),” Okoye said. “Also, I focused on finishing my shot, and I was able to do that.”
Amanda Hughes continued her impressive run of scoring by once again scoring in double digits with 10 points. Kalie Matthews also had an impressive game with eight points and six rebounds, and she may have delivered the highlight of the whole game.
With the clock running out at the end of the first half, Ramos passed the ball to Matthews just behind half court. Matthews, calm and collected, heaved the ball toward the basket. It went in, and she celebrated with her teammates as they headed into the locker room for halftime.
The Wildcats forced 29 turnovers but had 27 of their own, many of which were unforced. Even with an unusual amount of turnovers, UND was able to out-rebound the Wildcats 33-29.
That being said, the Wildcats controlled the second-chance points, something they have done well all year. The advantage of 15-3 kept the Wildcats in for most of the game, but in the end, UND took advantage of the 30 times it was sent to the free-throw line, making 24.
“When we have 27 turnovers, even when we force 29, we can’t win with that,” Ord said. “We gave them too many opportunities in key points of the game. We also sent them to the line too much. That was a huge difference-maker in the game. If we hold them to a lesser amount, we might have stolen that game.”
The Wildcats will now return home for their next four games. Their next opponent will be Southern Utah University on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.
The Wildcats also had a game Saturday against the University of Northern Colorado. That game will be covered in the Wednesday issue of The Signpost and at www.wsusignpost.com.