As the season came to a close, the Weber State University women’s basketball team found a groove that resulted in wins. The Wildcats were scheduled to play the back end of their schedule at home, where they have become comfortable winning games.
But Portland State University came into town March 6 looking to finish the season on a high note. The Wildcats were on the other end of a close game, which was decided in the final minute. Two late free throws from the Vikings sunk the Wildcats, 62-60. The loss dropped the Wildcats’ record to 7-21, 3-16 in conference play.
WSU head coach Bethann Ord said the team has come a long way since the start of the season, but that doesn’t make the loss feel any better.
“Our post players played really well, especially when they had to guard their guards,” Ord said. “I thought in the first half that we were on track; we were able to attack the basket.”
In the back-and-forth game, the Wildcats relied heavily on the play of their bigs down in the trenches. Jalen Carpenter once again paced the team with 15 points and five rebounds, while Amanda Hughes added 10 points and five boards.
“I knew that their post play was a little weak,” Carpenter said. “I knew that I was going to be able to drive. When Coach yells at me, I know what I need to do and then I try my best to do it.”
Another highlight for the Wildcats in the loss was freshman Deeshyra Thomas, who gave solid minutes off the bench. Thomas’ 11 points, two rebounds and three steals were a huge boost to the team. Not only was she all over the floor, but she shot 50 percent from the floor.
The Wildcats never trailed in the first half. They came out of the gates with a 10-0 run, which set the tone for the rest of the half. The Wildcats were able to enforce their will on the struggling Vikings. Both teams traded baskets near the end of the half, and the Wildcats led 29-26 heading into the intermission.
The Vikings looked like a totally different team in the second half as they took their first lead after a 6-2 run in the first three minutes. The Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run to help them regain the lead, 39-33. The last 10 minutes of the game were filled with both teams responding to one another’s runs.
Hughes, the lone senior on the team, put on her best Kevin Durrant impression in the dying moments of the game. A three with just more than two minutes remaining gave the Wildcats a three-point lead. To follow that up, she got to the free-throw line, where she calmly made both of them.
That gave the Wildcats a four-point lead, which might have been just enough to squeak out a win. But then Kate Lanz decided to one-up Hughes and the Wildcats. She scored the last six points for the Vikings, and her two free throws with three seconds left sealed the deal. But her jumper with 47 seconds left may end up being the best shot she has ever made.