The Weber State University women’s basketball team once again showed it should not be overlooked. The University of Montana fell to the Wildcats 56-54 on Thursday. The win improved WSU’s record to 2-13 in the Big Sky Conference, 6-18 overall.
After a rough patch earlier in conference play, the Wildcats may have found their stride, as the win over the second-place Grizzlies suggests.
“I am so proud of our girls,” said WSU head coach Bethann Ord. “Once we get over that hump, we are going to be scary. ‘Attack’ was one of the words we had on our whiteboard, and I felt that we did that.”
The Wildcats were led by the double-double of sophomore Kalie Matthews, whose 14 points and 13 rebounds played a huge role in the outcome. Senior Amanda Hughes finished with 14 points, some of those coming in key situations down the stretch.
“Kalie is realizing that when she blocks out every time that she is able to get the rebound every time,” Ord said. “She has that big huge heart, along with the other players that we have. But she is as tough as a $2 steak.”
Matthews and her teammates said they were happy to get over the hump with a win on Monday and knew they had a chance to make a splash against the Grizzlies.
“I think tonight went so well for us because we were so hungry after that win,” Matthews said. “We just wanted to win again just so much more after knowing what it feels like. We know how good we can be and are. It just comes down to putting two and two together.”
Earlier in the season, the Wildcats struggled to close out games as turnovers or costly mistakes ended their chances of winning. But they weren’t ready to disappoint their home fans and themselves.
The first half was categorized as a defensive battle, with neither team able to find its shooting touch. But in the second half, the teams started to match each other basket for basket.
Neither team was able to gain an advantage larger than four points until the final four minutes. After two Brianna Averette free throws extended the lead to three points, Hughes did her best Kevin Durant impression as she nailed back-to-back 3-pointers. That, timed with costly turnovers from the Grizzlies, gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead, their largest of the game.
But the Grizzlies weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. They rallied to tie the game with little more than a minute remaining. A steal by Desiree Ramos set up the game-winning sequence.
With the clock running down, Ramos got fouled as she made her way to the basket. Calm and collected, she made both of her free throws and gave the Wildcats the 56-54 lead. But the Grizzlies weren’t able to take advantage of one last position. Maggie Rickman was called for a charge to end UM’s comeback hopes.
The Wildcats will now hit the road to take on California State University, Sacramento on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. The game can be seen on www.bigskytv.org or on the Watch Big Sky App.
The Wildcats played Montana State University on Saturday. That game will be covered in the Wednesday issue of The Signpost and on www.wsusignpost.com.